One of the latest acquisitions of Oswego’s Little White School Museum is now on exhibit in the museum gallery.
Recently, museum staff put the travel trunk used to carry Georg Michael Schoger’s belongings when he immigrated to Oswego Township in 1856 on permanent exhibit in the museum gallery. The handmade wooden trunk, with hand-cut dovetail corners and reinforced with iron strapping, was donated to the museum by Naperville resident Jim Shoger, a direct descendant of German immigrant Georg Michael Schoger.
In 1854, Georg Michael and Eva Maria (Brunner) Schoger dispatched three of their sons from their home in Germany to the United States to find the family a new home. The three boys reported that a fine farming area awaited the Schogers on rich prairie land in Kendall County, Illinois’ Bristol Township, just a short distance west of the village of Oswego.
The couple and their seven other children decided to follow the three scouts. In preparation, Georg Michael built a large, sturdy travel trunk of good German pine, reinforcing it with handmade iron straps and corner reinforcement.
The nine remaining Schogers immigrated from Germany to Oswego in 1856. The family arrived in New York harbor aboard the ship St. Nicholas on Sept. 12, 1856. They then boarded the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Emigrant Line in New York for the rail and canal trip to Chicago. The Emigrant Line sticker is still attached to the side of Georg Michael’s travel box.
When they finally got to Kendall County, the Schogers settled on land in Section 12, Bristol Township, that extended across the township line into Section 7 of Oswego Township.
Most of the family soon Anglicized their name to Shoger, although some family members still prefer the German spelling. The numerous Shogers – Georg Michael had 21 children by three wives – eventually married into most Oswego-area German-speaking families including the Hafenrichters, Hemms, Burkharts, Ebingers and Haags, as well as non-German Oswego families.
Georg Michael’s travel trunk was not the only family heirloom that Jim Shoger and his cousin, Russ Breitweiser, donated to the museum. Breitweiser donated the 1906 wedding suit of Georg Michael’s grandson, Clarence Shoger, and Jim Shoger donated the wedding dress, wedding photo and wedding certificate of his bride, Katherine “Kate” Ward. Also included in the donation are numerous Shoger family photographs (most identified), documents, and family artifacts from kitchenware to antique toys enjoyed by generations of Shoger children.
The museum, at 72 Polk Street just two blocks from Oswego’s historic downtown, is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. The museum is a joint project of the Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District.