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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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MRS. MARGARET SCHALL HUNSICKER is the daughter of General William Schall, who in his day was one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of Montgomery county. The Schalls are an old family in this section of Pennsylvania. In the year 1743 Tobias Schall, his wife and son George, came to America, from the Pfaltz, Valdeck, on the borders of France and Switzerland, in Middle Sheflentz, in Moshbruce Ampt. George Schall was born in the year 1735, and baptized in the Lower Sheflentz church, and confirmed in the Middle Sheflentz Reformed church. The Schalls settled in Northampton county, Pennsylvania, where George married Catharine Newhard, in Whitehall township (now in Lehigh county).

The Schalls left their native country because of religious persecution, they being of the German Protestant element which enters so largely into the population of Montgomery county. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1684 and subsequent measures intended to crush out Protestantism, induced the Schalls and many other French Huguenots to leave their native land and emigrate to America, where their descendants now form a very substantial portion of the community, having intermarried in various generations with those who have sprung from other nationalities.

The Schall coat-of-arms, belonging to the twelfth century, a period when simplicity and purity were the rule in heraldry, is of architectural structure, formed by two beams joined at an angle. The checking is a characteristic em blem (squares of alternating colors), of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, signifying activity and alertness on the field of battle. This symbol is the pride of many ancient and illustrious families on the continent, and shows that the arms were extant at that early age, when the hereditary use of arms was employed to distinguish families connected. In the sixteenth century members of the Schall family settled in Livonia, and obtained the office of hereditary marshal for the family, they having been originally a noble family of Cologne. In the eighteenth century they also appear in Bavaria. That the family is very ancient is shown by the ancestral registers. Robert Schall appears as far back as 1150, and Johann Schall von Bell was rewarded with the Thurnhof, a manor at Friesdorf. The arms of the Schall von Bell family are as follows: Azure, a fess; Chequey Gules and Argent, consisting of two rows of ten squares each. This family had high honors under the empire. Their name appears to have been originally only von Schall, but later, in the fourteenth century, they added Bell to it, Bell being their manor near Glacbach.

In the first half of the eighteenth century the title of baron was conferred upon the family, and in connection with this, Ferdinand, Baron Schallvon Bell, was married first in 1747. He was admitted to the knighthood of Bergen. The motto on the coat-of-arms is “Virtutas Sola Nobilitas,” meaning “Virtue alone ennobles.” The crest forms two outstretched wings with chequey repeated on them. The Schall family has always been prominent and patriotic in America as well as in Europe. They have been represented in every one of the country’s wars-that with the French and Indians in colonial times; the Revolutionary war; the war with Great Britain in 1812; the Mexican war, the rebellion, and the Spanish-American and Philippine wars. The immigrant Schalls first landed in South Carolina, but ultimately settled in Pennsylvania.

George Schall, son of Tobias, had one son George, who rose to some eminence, being a member of the state legislature from Berks county. He married Catharine Eyster. They had the following children: George, John, David, William (father); Hannah and Catharine. Hannah married Daniel Jacoby, and Catharine married Dr. William Herbst. David was the father of General John W. Schall, of Norristown.

William Schall (father) was born in Oley township, Berks county, April 18, 1812, being educated in both English and German, and trained to the management of the iron business, in which his father was engaged. From early childhood William Schall lived at District Forge, in Berks county. In 1833 he built Green Lane Forge, in Montgomery county, operating it successfully until 1848, when he removed to Norristown. In 1835 he had been elected on the Whig ticket to the Pennsylvania house of representatives, serving one year. Early in life he was elected first lieutenant of the Third Troop, and subsequently colonel of the Third Regiment, Montgomery county Volunteers. In 1840 he became brigade inspector, which office he retained until 1847, when he was chosen brigade-general of the county militia. On coming to Norristown he bought the property at the corner of Main and Mill streets, still owned by the family.

He also bought land at the junction of the Schuylkill river and Stony creek, where he erected nail works, and later a rolling mill, employing many men. He also built Lucinda Furnace. He operated these establishments a number of years. All of them have long since been demolished. In 1864 General Schall and sons erected a rolling mill in the lower part of the borough, which they operated until 1870.

In January, 1831, William Schall married Caroline, daughter of Reuben Trexler, of Berks county. William and Caroline Schall had fourteen children, of whom those who survived infancy were: Lucy, who married Herman L. Baer, and is now deceased; Reuben T., who is engaged in the iron and coal business at Mill and Lafayette street, Norristown; Edwin and Edward (twins); David and Calvin, all deceased; Margaret, who married Charles Hunsicker, a leading attorney of Norristown (deceased); George, who was killed in the Exeter wreck in May, 1899; he was for several years postmaster of Norristown; Percival, a member of the Third United States Infantry, under General MacArthur, who died in the Philippines, on Friday, October 5, 1901; Alexander, Annie, and Amelia, married John B. Beaver (deceased). David married Mary Jane, daughter of Nathan and Ann Rambo; both died some years ago, leaving one son, William; Reuben, married Virginia, daughter of George White. Calvin married Susanna, daughter of John White. Alexander was killed in a railroad accident near Bristol, Pennsylvania, in 1874. Mrs. Caroline Schall died March 7, 1870. Her husband survived her several years, dying in 1885.

Eight of the sons of General William Schall enlisted in the Union army during the rebellion. They were: Captain Edward and Colonel Edwin; Captain Reuben T., Lieutenant David, privates Calvin, Alexander and Percival; Captain George Schall. Colonel Edwin Schall was killed in the Battle of Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. All the others survived many years, although their health was seriously impaired in several instances by their services in behalf of their country. Percival Schall entered the Union army when not yet seventeen years of age, having volunteered to carry the mails to and from camp. He subsequently enlisted in the Fifty-first Pennsylvania Regiment, was captured and incarcerated in Libby Prison. Being exchanged, he rejoined his regiment and served through the war. He then went into the regular army as second lieutenant, being located at Savannah and later at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, where he remained until ordered to the Philippines. He was with General Custer in his memorable fight with the Indians.

General William Schall was a man of public spirit who entered heartily into everything connected with the interests of the community. He was a school director and a member of town council. In early life a Whig, he became identified later with the Democratic party. He and his family were members of the Reformed church of the Ascension, and for many years he was one of its elders. He was one of the original trustees of the Bringhurst Fund.

Mrs. Margaret S. Hunsicker’s mother was Caroline Trexler, a descendant of Major John Lesher, of colonial and Revolutionary fame. He served in the French and Indian war. When Benjamin Franklin was sent to the Forks of the Lehigh in 1756 as commissioner to carry on the war against the Indians, Jeremiah Trexler, Mrs. Hunsicker’s great-great-grandfather, was one of Franklin’s chief advisors on this occasion, being his personal friend.

Colonel John Lesher, the only son and heir-at-law of Nicholas Lesher, was a native of Switzerland, born January 5, 1711. He emigrated to Pennsylvania in I734 and was naturalized in 1743. He first settled in Bucks county, but subsequently removed to Oley township, in Berks county. He erected Oley Forge, in 1744, and became prominently identified with the iron industry of Berks county. He was deputy wagon-master under Conrad Weiser, who was captain in Forbes’ regiment, at Fort Henry, in 1758, being appointed because he spoke both English and German. He was elected a member of the general assembly of Pennsylvania, May 26, 1776, serving until 1782; also a member of the committee of safety. He was a member of the constitutional convention of Pennsylvania in 1776, and one of the commissioners for purchasing supplies for the Continental army. He served as captain in Colonel John Patten’s regiment, of the Pennsylvania line, and fought in the battle of Long Island in 1776. He became a major during the course of the war. He died in Oley township, April 5, 1794, aged eighty-three years. The following members of Valley Forge Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Norristown, are his descendants: Mrs. Margaret S. Hunsicker, Mrs. Miller D. Evans, Mrs. John B. Beaver, Mrs. Irwin Fisher, and Miss Margaret Schall.

Mrs. Hunsicker is very active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of Colonial Dames, and other patriotic organizations. She has taken a deep interest in various matters connected with Valley Forge, including the furnishing of a room at Washington’s Headquarters at that place by Valley Forge Chapter, D. A. R., of which she is regent.

Margaret Schall married, June 13, 1865, Charles Hunsicker, one of the prominent members of the Norristown bar. He belonged to an old Montgomery county family, his ancestors having settled on the Perkiomen a century and a half ago. His family were originally Mennonites, his grandfather, John Hunsicker, being a minister of that denomination, and an extensive land owner and farmer in Upper Providence.

Joseph Hunsicker (father) was born May 29, 1798. He was a farmer and lumber merchant. He married Elizabeth Meyer. Their other children were: John M., Samuel, Joseph W., Anna E. (Mrs. J. A. Henkels), and Davis Hunsicker. Joseph Hunsicker served a term as associate judge, his being the last appointment under the old constitutional provision which gave to the governor the right to select the associate judges. The family were Whigs, and Joseph Hunsicker was appointed associate judge by Governor William F. Johnston. Judge Hunsicker died December 1, 1870.

Charles Hunsicker was born in Upper Providence, October 26, 1836. When fourteen years of age he became a pupil at the Washington Hall Seminary, Trappe, and later entered Freeland Seminary, now Ursinus Collegr, at Collegeville. When sixteen years old he entered Union College, Schenectady, New York, being graduated with high honors. He entered the law office of Colonel James Boyd, and in August, 1857, was admitted to the bar. He rose rapidly to a leading position among the lawyers of the county. He was originally a Whig, afterwards entered with much ardor into the Know-Nothing party, and after its brief existence came to an end he joined the Democratic party, in which he soon became an acknowledged leader. His service during the rebellion included a brief tenure as adjutant of the Fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and on two occasions as lieutenant, in addition to the emergency period. In 1865 he was elected on the Democratic ticket to the position of district attorney, serving three years with much credit. The highest political position Mr. Hunsicker held was that of delegate to the constitutional convention of 1873, in which he took a very prominent part, introducing the proposition for the review of criminal trials by the state supreme court. He was trustee of the Norristown Hospital for the Insane by appointment of Governor Pattison, being one of the most active and useful members of the board. He was a delegate to the Democratic national convention at Chicago, in 1884, which nominated Grover Cleveland for president, and on other occasions he was similarly honored. His religious affiliations were with the Reformed Church of the Ascension of Norristown, of whose board of trustees he was a member. As a citizen, a lawyer and a politician, Mr. Hunsicker enjoyed a wide reputation. As a campaign speaker he was logical and convincing, his delivery being rapid and his remarks always pertinent to the subject. His ability as a lawyer consisted largely in his powers of persuasion in addressing the court and jury. It is probable that the inroads of the disease (neurasthenia, or nervous prostration) which caused his death, were due largely to overwork in the laborious and exhaustive attention given to the duties of his profession. He was frequently appointed to the position of master and examiner in equity cases, for which his natural quickness of perception and his large experience in law practice eminently fitted him. His decisions in many instances in such cases, were afterwards affirmed by the supreme court. His success in the legal profession may be attributed largely to his industry and persistence. Socially Mr. Hunsicker was genial and affable. He was an excellent talker and a good listener, and his qualities of mind and heart were of a character to attract all with whom he came in contact.

Mr. and Mrs. Hunsicker had two sons: Edwin S., graduated from Union College in the class of 1895; and James Rittenhouse, also a graduate of that institution. Edwin S. was a member of town council for several years. Both sons have a military record, Edwin S. having served in Cuba in the Spanish-American war, and James R. having commanded a company which spent some time in camp, but did not reach the scene of action. The latter was for some time captain of Company F, Sixth Regiment, National Guards of Pennsylvania.

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This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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