Steve’s Genealogy Research

Steve Shonk: Genealogist, Zoar Descendant and Historian

Fritz-Kappel family, Steve's descendants
Fritz-Kappel family, Steve’s ancestors. Christina (Kappel) Fritz (1st husb) Barth (2nd husb); her son Harvey Fritz, Christina’s mother, Wilhelmina (Petermann) Kappel, and Harvey’s daughter Beatrice (Steve’s grandmother); photo taken about 1903.

About the Geneaologist: Being a descendant of one of the first Zoar separatist families, Steve began tracing his family ancestry 30 years ago. As the fascinating story of the close-knit German settlers unfolded and intertwined through his research, he began documenting many of the other original Zoarites’ lineages.

Over the years, Steve has traced over 100 families with Zoar and nearby connections, finding branches now reaching as far as Kansas, California, and even Alaska. His ongoing research into Zoar area genealogy and history has uncovered the origins of numerous family names, from Ackermann & App to Zimmerman & Zeltman.

A small sampling of historic Zoar names includes Baumler/Bimeler, Beuter, Breil, Burkhardt, Fritz, Goesele, Holderieth, Kappel, Kuemmerle, Mutschelknauss, Notter, Petermann, Rauschenberger, Rieker, Ruoff & Sturm. More recent projects include the names Bauer, Kazmaier, Niedenthal, Oplinger, Goschenhofer, Strobel, Langlotz, & Zeeb.

Steve says, “Some information has been found fairly easily, but there are no guarantees; certain names seem destined to remain a mystery a while longer, including Sebastian Nedele, who left Zoar and was last known to be living near Loudonville, Ohio in 1855; and Zoar’s 1st mayor, David Breymaier, who left Zoar for Chicago in 1888, and shortly after was never heard from again. With some names – Zeeb, Seitz, & Straub – the origins are still the mystery. Thankfully, for the most part, they have been the exception, not the rule.”

Click any of the photos on this page for a larger view.


If you’re looking to find your family’s roots, Steve is available for hire to research your family tree.

Contact Steve Shonk for more information on his artwork and genealogy research by sending him a message using the form below.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Please type the following code