Volume 8, Number 3 - Spring 1983

The Schupback Family: Friends to All
Excerpts from "Sons of Pioneers"
by Omer E. Brown, contributed by Lucille A. Brown

Another German family of Christian County, although of Swiss descent, is the Schupbach family. The father of this family was born in Switzerland, as was also John Glauser, and the two families came first to West Virginia, then to Texas, and in the latter part of the nineteenth century came to the Southern part of Christian County in the Chestnutridge community.

There were two Schupbach brothers, Gottlieb and Fred. I do not think Fred ever married and he died at a comparatively young age. Gottlieb married Bertha Glauser, sister of John Glauser, and they reared a large family, twelve children, and built a fine large home to accommodate them. There were eight rooms, 16 feet square. It was a well built house and is still owned by a member of the Schupbach family, Herman, the youngest son. The family consisted of John and Franz, who fought for the United States in World War I, Walter, Fred, Albert, Ernest, Willie, Carl and Herman, and three daughters, Lena, Emma and Anna. Many of the boys are now deceased. Franz and Albert, who had a garage at Ozark for many years, Walter, John and Ernest, who died at a rather young age from cancer.* All these "boys" were the finest sort of workmen, mechanics, carpenters and artisans.

Old Gottlieb was what might be called a ''character''. He got a lot of fun out of life. The story is told that in the old days before Prohibition he was in a saloon in Springfield where some young whippersnappers, trying to make fun of the jolly old Dutchman, asked, "How much beer can you drink, Mr. Schupbach?" He is said to have replied; "I can drink as long as my money holds out and the beer lasts." He taught his sons to be fine workmen. He, as well as some of his sons, was a skilled carpenter and they made coffins for most of their neighbors. It is said that he would go through the woods and when he saw an exceptionally fine tree, would cut it and say, "That is coffin timber," and would carefully cut off boards crosswise from the butt of the log to use for head and foot boards of coffins and cut and dress the rest of the lumber and save it to use for coffins.

It was considered an honor to be buried in a Schupbach coffin, for these were well built of the finest lumber, well covered and trimmed and were custom-made to fit the deceased. His son, Fred, who with his good wife Loma, daughter of Judge Samuel Hilton, have been friends of mine for many years, says that when a person died one of the family would bring a stick the length of the corpse, and another the width and depth. The cost of these caskets was low, $25.00; this was a service rendered more as a neighborly act than for financial gain.

The Schupbach farm was located in the roughest part of Christian County, and of course was not good farming


country, so the family worked at other jobs to make a living. There was lots of timber growing on the farm and they cut railroad ties. Then the railroad did not want to buy sawed ties, preferring ties sewn with a broad axe.

Mr. Schupbach knew how to get by that technicality; he cut the ties and sawed them just a little bigger than the required dimensions and Jacob Wirth, a neighbor, also a German, skilled in the use of a broad axe, went over each tie quickly and in a minute that tie could not be told from one sewn entirely by that instrument.

The family also had a steam engine which traveled over the country from house to house in the fall cutting up a supply of winter fuel, and they had a saw mill run by that same steam engine and would go from place to place and saw lumber to build a house or barn from native oak grown on the farmer's own land. One of my wife’s earliest recollections is being taken up to the spring on Mr. Welch’s Farm where the steam engine had been set up to saw lumber for a barn. She was perhaps four years old and when she saw the rig she began to cry and Mr. Welch asked, "What’s the matter, Lucille?" She said, "Poke’s comm’ out." Her sister, Mary, also remembers being afraid of that old engine as it belched steam and smoke. In the summer after wheat had been cut and shocked and stacked, the steam engine and threshing machine would make the rounds through the country threshing wheat for everyone who grew wheat. There were a few more threshers in the country, but most people depended on the Schupbach boys; they had good equipment and knew how to use it. As soon as the boys were old enough to do that task, old Mr. Schupbach retired so to speak and turned it over to his sons who carried on that trade for many years.

There were other German or Swiss people in the Chestnutridge area, prominent among which were the Glauser family: John Glauser who had the general store and post office there for many years, and his wife Elise, and their sons Rudolph, who served with me in Co. D 110th Engineers in World War I; Ernest who later became a merchant in Ozark, Fred, Hans, Otto, Bertha, Elise, Flora and Alice. There were Henry and Matilda Rosenberg, Jacob Wirth and Jack Meier, and there may be others, all fine citizens.

On a knoll not far from the Schupbach home Gottlieb donated a square acre for a cemetery for use by the community. No fee was ever charged for a grave lot in that cemetery. The first person buried there was Fred Schupbach, brother of Gottlieb. At one time a fence surrounded the cemetery with gate posts surmounted by large round concrete balls. Now the fence has been removed and one of the balls has been damaged by accident, and here Gottlieb Schupbach and his good wife Bertha Glauser Schupbach and several of their sons and grandchildren sleep in that quiet beautiful spot, a monument to a good old man and a fine family.

*Fred, Willie and Emma have died since the publication of the book in 1973.


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