This site is devoted to the history of the Schantz family descending from Melchior Schantz (born 1580 in Gudensberg, Hessen-Kassel, died 1633 in Ziegenhain Hessen-Kassel). Private pages are open to documented descendants of Socrates Schantz (1866-1938) of St. Louis, Missouri.
A related branch is the Swedish & Finnish Schantz lines descending from Johann Eberhardt von Schantz (1614-1665), secretary to King Carl X Gustav of Sweden.
If you are interested in pursuing Schantz genealogy, please follow the steps below:
1. First read this history page, which contains information about several of the different Schantz families, and may help you to determine whether or not you are related to any of these particular Schantz lines.
Roots of Various Schantz Trees
The Schantz surname is relatively common across the German-speaking areas of Europe. Schantz is an older spelling of the German word Schanz or Schanze, meaning trench or redoubt. Historically, it also referred to earthwork fortifications such as those in use since ancient times. As such, many unrelated families adopted the name independently, presumably due to having at some point lived near such an earthen fort. Like any surname, therefore, researchers must be careful in proving connections between any two families with the same name.
Schantz “clans” which are almost certainly NOT RELATED to ours are:
* Swiss/German (Mennonite, Amish, etc.) – Spelled in numerous ways: Schantz, Tschonz, Shanz, Schonz, etc.; many “Schantzes” of this origin came to America (Pennsylvania, Ohio) in the 1700s from Switzerland and southwestern Germany.
* Eastern European (Hungarian, Austrian, Russian, etc.) – Includes many unrelated families.
* Bavarian and Alsatian – There are documented Schantz families from each of these areas.
* “Other” Hessian – While our Schantzes came from Hessen-Kassel, there are many unrelated Schantz families from this area, as well as neighboring Hessen-Darmstadt.
The Schantz family which IS the subject of this Web site has three major divisions:
1. Franconian (Mainfranken, Grafschaft Wertheim) - traditionally, the origin for both Melchior Schantz & Johann Eberhardt Schantz lines.
2. Hessian - (split from the Franconian group in the 1530s)
3. Swedish/Finnish - (split from the Hessian group in the 1640s)
1. Franconian (Frankisch) – This is the supposed Urquell, or wellspring, of our family. First documented in the Mainfranken region of south-central Germany in the 15th century, this Schantz clan lived along the Main and Tauber rivers, in and around the city of Wertheim. Reputedly an ancient family of the Franconian Ritterschaft (knighthood), 16th century documents show many family members serving as officers and royal officials in Wertheim and the vicinity.
Wolfgang (Wolf) Schantz, an official for the Count of Wertheim, was granted a patent of nobility by Emperor Charles V at Regensburg on 18 May 1541. At this time, he changed his coat of arms from "a black raven, with a horseshoe in its beak", to "a golden ring with a turquois [stone] in the beak of the raven." This coat of arms is well-documented in numerous armorial books from the 17th - 19th centuries, presumably based on several surviving images in the city of Schwäbisch Hall, home town of Wolf Schantz' wife Agatha nee Büschler. Swedish and Finnish von Schantz descendants have claimed the right to bear this coat of arms since the mid-17th century, based on descent from a Hermann Schantz who fled Wertheim to Gudensberg, Hessen-Kassel circa 1536. Descendants of Melchior Schantz have claimed the same pedigree since the late 17th century.
2. Hessian (Kurhessisch) – A presumed sub-group of the Franconian Schantzes, this division of the family has been documented in northern Hessen (Hesse-Kassel, or Kurhessen) since the mid 16th century; first in the city of Gudensberg, and later across Niederhessen (lower, or northern, Hessen). Members of this division have claimed since at least the 1600s to be a branch of the Franconian Schantzes, as descendants of one Hermann Schantz, a major in the service of the Count of Wertheim. According to family accounts, Hermann was born about 1495 in Wertheim, and along with his brother Hans converted to the Lutheran faith during the Reformation. Because of this, the Archbishop of Mainz condemned them as heretics (ca. 1531). Hans was put to death for his faith, while Hermann fled north to Gudensberg in Hessen, where the Hessian Landgrave, Philip the Magnanimous, was a strong supporter of the Protestant cause.
One branch of this clan or sub-group has as its patriarch one Melchior Schantz, born in Gudensberg in 1580. Melchior is claimed to be a great-grandson of Hermann Schantz, though the precise connection between the two has not been proven conclusively. He moved to Ziegenhain prior to 1610, and was noted as a Bürger (burgher) of that city. Melchior Schantz was killed in 1633 by an accidental cannon explosion, during a welcome celebration for Swedish Chancellor Axel Oxentierna. Melchior’s descendants spread out through the districts of northern Hesse-Kassel. They remained Protestant (Reformed, later Evangelisch), and were a Beamtenfamilie, or family of civil servants. As part of this small “professional class”, almost all were employed as government officials, officers or clergy. Many lines of Melchior Schantz’s descendants have been thoroughly documented in central Germany and America, and are the main subject of this Web site.
Note: The Schantz name has been found in northern Hessen prior to Hermann Schantz’s supposed arrival in the 1530s. Additionally, other Schantzes are noted as having arrived in Gudensberg in later decades. Therefore, the exact connections, if any, between several of the 16th and 17th century Schantz lines in Hesse-Kassel remain unclear.
3. Swedish/Finnish (Scandinavian) – Another presumed great-grandson of Hermann Schantz (b.1495) was Johann Eberhardt Schantz, born in Hesse-Kassel in 1614. Johann Eberhardt served as secretary to Swedish King Carl X Gustav during the Thirty Years War. He emigrated to Stockholm after the war, where he and his five sons were ennobled. They kept the family name and coat of arms, and subsequently went by “von Schantz.” The many descendants of this family have been well-documented, and there are surviving branches across Scandinavia and North America. Most have retained the name “von Schantz.”