MS0008 The Schley Family Papers

Summary Information

Title: Schley Family Papers

Collection No: MS0008
Creator: Schley Family
Collection Dates: 1768-1910
Extent: 0.7 feet
Language: All records are in English.


The Historical Society of Frederick County
Archives and Research Center
24 East Church Street
Frederick, MD 21701

Date Published: May 8, 2013
Author: The guide to this collection was written by David Freeburn and Rebecca Fitzgerald.


John Thomas Schley was born at Moerzheim in Germany around 1712.  According to records in Germany cited by Calvin E. Schildknecht in 1993, he was a schoolmaster in Moerzheim until 1736, when he began teaching school in nearby Appenhofer.  He married Maria Margaret Wintz around 1735, and they had several children.  John Thomas Schley was schoolmaster in Appenhofer until at least 1743, when his daughter Maria Margaret was baptized.  In 1746, he began paying Daniel Dulany quitrent on four lots in Fredericktown, and he was one of the earliest settlers of Frederick.  He probably emigrated to America around 1745.  He built the first house in Frederick on the northeast corner of East Patrick Street and Maxwell Alley.  The house was torn down in 1853.  According to Schildknecht, he became a naturalized citizen in 1760 in Pennsylvania.

He was a schoolmaster, kept a tavern, was a prominent member of the community, and was very active in the Reformed Church.  The tavern was probably located on the southeast corner of  Patrick and Market Streets.  In 1749 he was fined for running a tippling house, but records show he applied for a tavern license the next year.  Michael Schlatter, a traveling Reformed minister, wrote of him in 1748 after a visit to the Fredericktown congregation: “They have the best schoolmaster that I have met in America.  He spares neither labor nor pains in instructing the young and edifying the congregation, according to his ability, by means of signing and reading the word of God and printed sermons on every Lord’s Day.” (Pioneers of Old Monocacy, p. 150).  He served as pastor of the Reformed Church when a minister was not available, and kept the church records.  He was church organist, the first teacher at the Reformed Church’s school, and wrote music.  He was also active in the community.  He was one of the founding members of the first fire company in Frederick, which was organized in 1760.  In 1757, he was listed in the muster rolls as a lieutenant in the Frederick militia.  He was appointed to the Fredericktown Committee of Observation in 1775.  He died in 1790.

John Thomas and Margarita Schley’s first child was George Jacob Schley.  He was born around 1735 in Germany.  George Jacob Schley emigrated to this country with his parents around 1745.  He married Margarite Fortenay in 1761, and they had several children.  According to Schildknecht’s Schley Genealogy, he owned a tavern and house on the east side of North Market Street which he received from his father in 1775.  Like his father, he was an active member of the Reformed Church and in the community.  He also worked as a gunsmith and was commissioned to make guns for the revolutionary army.  George Jacob Schley was a juror to the oath of allegiance in 1778 and loaned money to the State of Maryland in 1780.  He was a first lieutenant in the Captain John Hess militia.  George Jacob Schley died in 1811.

One of the children of George Jacob and Margarite Schley was John George, who was born in 1767.  He was a judge of the Orphans Court from 1802 to 1813.  He was elected to the House of Delegates in 1809 and 1810, and was Clerk of the Circuit Court from 1815 to 1835.  Like his father and grandfather, he was active in the community, and is on record as raising money for a public school in 1801.  In 1792, he married Anna Mary (Polly) Shriver.  He died in 1835.

John George and Polly Shriver Schley had several children.  The eldest was Henry who was born in 1793.  Early in his life he was involved in business in Baltimore with his uncles, Henry Schroeder and Jacob Schley.  In 1814, he served in the War of 1812 as adjutant of a Maryland regiment that was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Cramer.  Henry participated in the battles of Bladensburg and North Point.  After the war, he settled in Frederick, where he formed the “Warren Greens” Rifle Company. When his father John died in 1835, Henry succeeded him in the office of Clerk of the Circuit Court.  In 1845, Henry Schley was appointed cashier of the Frederick County National Bank, where he served for more than 20 years.  In 1862, he became Vice-President of the United Brothers of the War of 1812 in Frederick County.  He married Sarah Maria Worrell in 1817, and died on April 1, 1871.

The second son of John George and Polly Shriver Schley was George Augustus who was born in 1795.  According to Schildknecht’s Schley Genealogy, he was an artist who studied with Peale, was editor of the Frederick Examiner (p. 27), and may have been elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1838.  He did not marry and died in 1846.  He is buried with his parents in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.

William Ludwig Schley, another son of John George and Polly Shriver Schley, was born in 1799.  In 1821, William graduated with honors from Nassau Hall (College of New Jersey), which was a forerunner of Princeton University.  In Frederick he studied law with Roger Brooke Taney and other local attorneys, passed the bar exam in 1824, and began practice in Frederick.  William L. Schley was elected to the Maryland State Senate in 1836, but he resigned in 1837 when he moved his legal practice to Baltimore.  As Chairman of the Committee on the Constitution of Maryland, William Ludwig Schley was involved in a controversy with William Cost Johnson.  He fought a duel with Johnson on February 13, 1837, in which both men were wounded but survived and became friends.  William L. Schley was a well-regarded and highly successful lawyer who struggled financially under the burden of his father-in-law’s debts.  He married Ann Cadwalader Ringgold in 1824.  She was the daughter of General Samuel and Maria Cadwalader Ringgold.  William Ludwig Schley died in 1872 of smallpox.  William Ludwig and Ann Cadwalader Schley had several children.  Their son William Cadwalader Schley was born in 1840.  He married Ellen Teackle of Baltimore, Maryland, in 1868.  According to Jennings they had three children and William practiced law in the Baltimore courts.  He died in 1888 and is buried at Greenmount Cemetery.

Margaret Schley, the next child in the family, was born in 1802.  In 1826 she married Dr. Edward Yerbury Goldsborough, with whom she had several children.  She died in 1876.

Another child of John George and Polly Shriver Schley was John Thomas Schley.

He was born in 1806 in Frederick County.  John Thomas Schley lived for a time in Baltimore, but according to Schildknecht, he returned to Frederick about 1830.  Also according to Schildknecht, he was a lawyer and a merchant in addition to running the Richfields farm where he lived with his family north of Frederick.  In his genealogy, Schildknecht cites a series of autobiographical articles by Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley that appeared from December 1911 to May 1912.  Admiral Schley stated that although his father had been educated for law, he never practiced.  John Thomas Schley married Georgianna Virginia McClure of Baltimore around 1831 or 1832.  Before her death in 1846, they had eight children, among them Winfield Scott Schley.  John Thomas Schley married Sophia Hallen in 1851.  He died in 1876 and is buried with his first wife in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.

One of the children of John Thomas Schley’s first marriage was Winfield Scott Schley, who was born at Richfields in 1839.  He was educated in Frederick, Maryland, entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1856, and graduated from there in 1860.  He married Anne Rebecca Franklin of Annapolis in 1863 and they had three children.  He saw a great deal of action during the Civil War and served for a time under the command of Admiral Farragut.  During the rest of the century, he had an active, adventurous, and successsful career both at sea and on shore.  He taught at the Naval Academy, and was head of the department of modern languages from 1872 to 1876.  Winfield Scott Schley saw action in China and South America, and he rescued an Arctic expedition led by Army Lt. A.W. Greely in 1884.  During the Spanish-American War he commanded the “Flying Squadron” and destroyed the Spanish fleet at Santiago.  Schley’s commander, Admiral William T. Sampson, who was absent from the event, tried to take credit for the defeat of the Spanish and criticized Schley’s movements prior to the battle.  Schley was vindicated after a formal Naval investigation, which he requested.  He was promoted to rear-admiral and was showered with honors.  At the close of the war Schley was appointed by the president to a military commission to Puerto Rico.  He died in New York in 1911.

The final surviving child of John George and Polly Shriver Schley was Frederick Schley, who was born in 1814. Frederick served for a short time as a diplomat in China.  Around 1850 (one source cites 1848 while another gives a date of 1850), he purchased an interest in one of the Frederick newspapers, The Examiner, which he also served as editor-in-chief.  Frederick Schley retired from the paper in 1861 or 1865. He married Florence Washington in 1834.  There were no surviving children.  He died in 1875.

Another son of Thomas and Margarita Schley was John Jacob Schley, who was born in 1751 and died in 1829.  He moved his family to Georgia where one of his sons, William, later became governor.  Another son, Frederick Augustus, who was born in 1789, returned to Frederick because of his health.  He studied for the bar under Roger B. Taney.  Frederick Schley built a successful practice in Frederick and died there in 1858.


Jennings, Tyre Lee, The Schley Family, Houston, Texas, 1990.

Mallick, Sallie, A. and F. Edward Wright, Frederick County Militia In The War of 1812, Westminster, Maryland:  Family Line Publications, 1992.

Scharf, J. Thomas, History of Western Maryland, Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1968.

Schildknecht, Calvin, E., Emigrants Thomas and Margaret Schley and Some of Their Descendants, 1993.

Tracey, Grace L. and Dern, John P.  Pioneers of Old Monocacy, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987.

Williams, T.J.C. and Folger McKinsey, History of Frederick County Maryland, Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1967.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Schley Family Papers comprise 0.7 feet and span the years 1768 to 1910, with bulk dates of 1778 to 1844.  The collection contains a deed, sheet music, songbooks, lists of soldiers and family members, an obituary, correspondence, receipts, a will, a subpoena, an invitation, an appointment, and a broadside.  The collection documents some of the political, financial, military, civic, and legal activities of various family members, and also discusses family matters.  Topics include the Treaty of Ghent and slavery.  The collection also contains a statement in defense of Winfield Scott Schley delivered before the inquiry into Schley’s conduct during the Spanish American War.

The collection is arranged into the following series:

Series I: John Thomas Schley

Series II: George Jacob Schley

Subseries 1: Correspondence

Subseries 2: Financial Records

Subseries 3: Military

Series III: John George Schley

Subseries 1: Correspondence

Subseries 2: Legal

Subseries 3: Family

Series IV: Henry Schley

Series V: George A. Schley

Series VI: William Ludwig Schley Family

Subseries 1: William Ludwig Schley

Subseries 2: Ann Cadwalader Schley

Subseries 3: William Cadwalader Schley

Series VII: John Thomas Schley

Series VIII: Frederick Schley

Series IX: Winfield Scott Schley

Series X: Frederick A. Schley

Series I: John Thomas Schley, 1768, 1790, n.d. (0.5 ft.)

This series contains a 1768 deed, undated photocopies of sheet music and three original songbooks, and a 1790 obituary for John Thomas Schley.

The three small-format manuscript copybooks contain music, bound in rag pasteboard.  The largest (20 cm x 11 cm) is hardback, with a brown cover seemingly varnished, and has an initial in ink on the outside cover and handsome illuminations in ink on the inside covers, reading “Johannes Schley,” with a large, historiated initial “J.”  A second copybook (16 ½ cm x 9 cm), bound in soft cardboard, has hand-painted flowers on both covers, and is badly worn.  The manuscript text opens with a forward giving music theory and charts in English.  The third copybook (16 cm x 8 cm) has a stamped cardboard cover.  A quotation from Shakespeare on music is inside the front cover of this book.  John Thomas Schley composed the music in this songbook, some of which continues in use in Frederick churches.

The songbooks have been restored and rehoused.  The rest of the series is arranged in chronological order, with the undated photocopied song sheets at the end.


Pages from the Johannes Schley songbook which belonged to John Thomas Schley.
Pages from the Johannes Schley songbook which belonged to John Thomas Schley.

Pages from the Johannes Schley songbook which belonged to John Thomas Schley.


Series II: George Jacob Schley, 1778-1800, n.d. (0.1 ft.)

This series contains correspondence, receipts, and lists related to the military service of George Jacob Schley during the Revolutionary War, and also his political and financial affairs.  This series is divided into three subseries: Correspondence, Financial Records, and Military.  All of the subseries are arranged in chronological order, with undated items at the end.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1779, 1783 (2 items)

The first letter in this subseries was written on January 17, 1779, from Alan Quynn of Annapolis to David Lynn of Montgomery County discussing the purchase of cattle by George Jacob Schley of Frederick.  On the reverse Jacob Schley signed the order to Edward Marsh of Loudoun County, Virginia.  The other letter in this subseries was written from Taneytown by John Gwynn, Jr., to Captain George Jacob Schley, asking him to serve as an election judge.

Subseries 2: Financial Records, 1778, 1783, 1800 (0.05 ft)

This subseries contains a 1783 receipt for property taxes, a 1778 receipt from Lindsay Delaschmutt, and an 1800 promissory note from Phillip Bier.

Subseries 3: Military, 1785, n.d. (0.05 ft)

Items in this subseries document some of Captain George Jacob Schley’s military responsibilities.  It contains a letter written on June 11, 1785, to Captain Schley from John Lynn discussing payments to soldiers involving Mr. W. Bayard and Mr. Bailey.  The subseries also contains a list of debts due to George Jacob Schley from the following soldiers:

Alexander Roberts

Benjamin Smith

Charles Williams

Daniel Stephens

David Kelly

Dennis Flanaghan

George Finnly

Hughy Rhoney

John Barrett

Isaac Hill

James Cowan

James Shepherd

John Rummills

John Perry

Jesse McKinsey

John Mick

John Shanks

James Meads

John Degins

John Clansy

Joseph Queen

James Morris

James Murphy

John Johnson

Lazarus Higgs

Nathaniel Harper

Naughtly Wilcox

Phillip Hughston

Robert Bowen

Mathias Vawner

Thomas Billingham

Thomas Bishop

Thomas Bailey

Umphry Wells.

This subseries also contains an undated list of the names of the fifth classes of Captain Jacob Schley’s company:

John Jacob Baltzel

Nicholas Conrad

Conrad Henry

Jacob Hane

John Michael

Christian Sholl

Daniel Stouffer

Denis Vanhorn.

The list goes on to name the sixth classes of Jacob Schley’s company:

William Beckwith

Frederick Gilbert

John Heffner

Daniel Leahr

Gotlob Ruchenbrod.

Series III: John George Schley, 1792-1835, n.d. (0.1 ft.)

This series contains correspondence relating to John George Schley’s family, civic, political, and legal concerns.  It also contains his last will and testament and an undated list of his children. This series is divided into three subseries: Correspondence, Legal, and Family.

Subseries 1: Correspondence, 1792-1826 (0.1 ft.)

This subseries contains a transcribed letter dated March 8, 1792, from John Schley to Davott (David) Shriver asking permission to marry his daughter Anna Mary (Polly).  The location of the original letter is unknown.  The rest of the letters document John George Schley’s involvement in politics and in the community.  His civic activities are illustrated by a March 21, 1809, letter from John Quynn regarding membership in the Republican Library Company of Frederick Town, and an undated letter from Thomas Hawkins of Frederick County regarding a petition to open a road from Harpers Ferry to the mouth of the Monocacy River.  This series also contains a January 13, 1835, letter from John Hyder of Uniontown, Maryland, asking Schley to strike off the lawsuit against William Zollickhoffen.

Letters discussing political matters include:

  • June 28, 1809, from Daniel Clarke of Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, conveying his support for Schley as a candidate of the Republican Party.
  • September 5, 1809, from Daniel Clarke of Upper Marlboro discussing personal matters and his attendance at Charles County Court, his colleagues Chief Judge Garett and Mr. Key, the upcoming election in which John was a Republican candidate for Frederick County, the state of the Republican Party in Calvert County, the support of the Methodist Church, the Church Bill, and the separation of Church and State.
  • October 2, 1810, from Abraham Shriver discussing the election and the count of votes.
  • February 17, 1826, from Thomas Harris of Annapolis relating to fee payment and tax repeal.

This subseries is arranged in chronological order with the undated item at the end.

Subseries 2: Legal, 1835 (1 item)

This subseries contains a copy of John George Schley’s last will and testament.

 Subseries 3: Family, n.d. (1 item)

This subseries contains an undated list of the children of John and Mary (Polly) Shriver.

Series IV: Henry Schley, 1815, 1837 (2 items)

This series consists of two letters.  The first letter was written on February 13, 1815, by Henry Schley in Baltimore to his father John George Schley.  The letter conveys the news that the Treaty of Ghent has been ratified, thus ending the War of 1812.  He describes the effect of the news in Baltimore and discusses the speculation in flour.

The second letter, dated June 14, 1837, was written by Warden Joseph Owens of Baltimore to Henry Schley as clerk of the Frederick Circuit Court regarding a pardon for a negro boy on the condition that the court bind him over to slavery.

The letters are arranged in chronological order.

Series V: George A. Schley, 1818 (1 item)

This series consists of a typed transcript of a letter written by George A. Schley to his sister Margaret discussing music and the accomplishments she should strive to attain.  The location of the original is unknown.

Series VI: William Ludwig Schley Family, 1833, 1841, 1844, 1875 (6 items)

This series consists of correspondence and a legal opinion relating to cases handled by William Ludwig Schley and his son William Cadwalader Schley, who were both attorneys.  This series also contains a personal letter written by William Ludwig’s wife Ann Cadwalader Ringgold Schley to her sister Mrs. George M. Potts of Frederick.

The series is arranged by person: William Ludwig Schley, Ann Cadwalader Schley, and William Cadwalader Schley.

Subseries 1: William Ludwig Schley, 1833, 1841 (4 items)

This subseries contains two 1841 letters from John Nelson and William L. Schley in Baltimore to Col. John McPherson of Frederick requesting payment of their fees for the court trial of the case Susan Maybury vs. Brien’s heirs.  This subseries also contains a letter postmarked February 21, c. 1841, from William Ludwig Schley to Col. John McPherson of Frederick, MD, discussing the settlement of Graff’s estate, McPherson’s case of Gilmer vs. Chapin, and many details of the Brien estate including the sale of half of Antietam, the possible sale of Arcadia, and the guardian of young Luke Brien.

Another item to be found in this subseries is a portion of a legal opinion by William Ludwig Schley written for Col. McPherson regarding the sale of slaves, Rose Hill manor, and other tracts of land, to satisfy the mortgage owed to Col. McPherson by Mrs. Graham.

This subseries is arranged in chronological order.

Subseries 2: Ann Cadwalader Schley, 1844 (1 item)

This subseries consists of one letter written on December 8, 1844, by Ann Cadwalader Schley from Baltimore to her sister Cornelia (Mrs. George M. Potts) in Frederick regarding her own illness, family members, and placing memorials in the family graveyard.

Subseries 3: William Cadwalader Schley, 1875 (1 item)

This subseries contains a letter dated November 29, 1875, from William Cadwalader Schley to an unidentified judge inquiring about payment due him from a lawsuit.

Series VII: John Thomas Schley, 1837, 1844, n.d. (3 items)

This series contains a subpoena issued by the Baltimore City Court on March 8, 1837, to the Sheriff of Frederick County for John Lee in the trial of George Thompson.  This subpoena was sent to John Schley as clerk of Frederick County Court.

This series also contains a June 17, 1844, letter from O.(?) H. W. Stull to John T. Schley about a box containing interlocked deer horns that he is sending from Burlington, Iowa.  An undated invitation for dinner from Governor Lloyd is also found in this series.

This series is arranged in chronological order, with the undated invitation at the end.

Series VIII: Frederick Schley, 1857 (1 item)

The broadside that comprises the series was issued in 1857 by Frederick Schley, editor of The Examiner.  The broadside describes his version of the public quarrel between him and Bradley T. Johnson, co-owner of the Maryland Union.

Series IX: Winfield Scott Schley, 1901, 1902, 1910 (3 items)

This series contains the defense of Winfield Scott Schley by Isidor Rayner before the court of inquiry in 1901, and an appointment for Albert James to the 1902 Schley Commission, which was established to purchase a bronze bust of Admiral Winfield Schley and place it in the new state building in Annapolis.  This series also contains a letter in reply to Mrs. Stewart Mosby Coleman regarding the flag of the Merrimac.

This series is arranged in chronological order with the oversize appointment document stored in the map case.

Series X: Frederick A. Schley, n.d. (2 items)

This series consists of two undated letters written by Frederick A. Schley.  The first letter in this series was written to Colonel John McPherson discussing an unspecified matter that William and Frederick Schley were handling for him.  The second letter discusses efforts to prevent the governor from issuing a proclamation.


Access and Use

Access Restrictions:

An appointment must be made with the Archivist to these items.

Photocopies and microfilm are available for research.  The originals are available only when the copy is illegible or when it is necessary to consult the original document.

Acquisition Information:

The 1825 letter from John Hyder to John Schley was donated by Paul Gordon.  The two 1841 letters from William Schley to Col. John McPherson were donated by George R. Dennis, Jr.  The provenance of the rest of the collection is unknown.


Preferred Citation:


Processing Information:

The documents in this collection have been housed in acid-free buffered folders and interleaved with acid-free buffered paper as necessary.  An oversize document was foldered and housed separately in the map case.  Photocopies were made for use by researchers.


Authorization to publish, quote, or reproduce must be obtained from the Historical Society of Frederick County, Frederick, Maryland 21701