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Schunck Kettenis

History of the weavers Schunck in Kettenis. It is typical for many others in the region of Eupen and Verviers (Belgium), with the emergence, booming and decline of its wool industry.

Ene Man dä hau en distelvink,
Häe hau se lejver wie sie kenk,
Häe hau se lejver wie sing frau
En häe hau se hange ajen katzau..

Katzau = Weaving loom in the regional dialect. Probably a corruption of the Dutch word „getouw“. For what concerns the Southern Netherlands the beginning of the weaving industry was in Flanders.


Family History = Regional History
Schunck Kettenis: Emergence, booming and decline of the textile industry. The last active Weber from this family, Hermann Schunck, retired himself and his weaving mill on November 30, 1972. Hereunder mainly follows the history of the weaver family Schunck in Kettenis.
Schunck Heerlen: Emergence, booming and decline of the coal mining in the Netherlands.
Simultaneously with the mining industry, Heerlen grew explosively from 5000 to 95,000 inhabitants. Around the turn of the century in 1900, Schunck had to employ sales personnel from outside the family. As was customary, these people lived at Schunck's. With the closure of the coal mine Oranje Nassau I in December 1974, the production of coal in Limburg - and thus in the Netherlands in general - came to a standstill. In 1995 the store A.Schunck was sold to Berden.

The history of the battles, government beginnings, marriages and other things which our heads of state used to do sometime, will become much more interesting if we also know what their subjects did in the same time. As a wardrobe we can take, for the princes as well as for the subjects, their family trees. At them we can hang up the stories of which their family histories exist.

At this page we go back to the weavers Schunck in Kettenis, where our ancestor Arnold Schunck came from. Both family stories (Schunck Kettenis and Schunck Heerlen) are close-knit with the history of the places, where they happened. In Kettenis this was the emergence, booming and decline of the wool industry in the region around Eupen, in Heerlen the emergence, booming and decline of the mining industry. Thus our family history becomes even more: the history of two whole regions can be found in it.

Why are family history and family tree treated here only via the fatherly line? Why not, for example, the mother of the father of the mother etc. ?
What concerns the family Schunck and many other families we do not have to search a long time for it: not only the surname, also the living was transmitted via this line. This applies for the weavers Schunck in Kettenis as well as for the department store in Heerlen. Only at the end this changed, at least in Heerlen: the last manager, who owned at the same time the biggest block of shares of the company A. Schunck, was Christine Dohmen-Schunck. This is why via the patriarchal line we find at the same time the history of the business and of the family, intertwined with each others. One of the weavers Schunck in Kettenis shows in his family chronicle clearly that was identical for him.

The first known generations

The first ancestor Schunck who is known till present:

  • Henricus Schonck, † 19-03-1686 in Kettenis near Eupen (Dukedom Limburg, nowadays Belgium).
    We do not know where and when he was born, although since 1611 the priests were obliged to register all births, marriages and deaths. (Eternal edict, during the Twelve Years’ Truce (1609 - 1621) of the Eighty Years’ War.
    We also do not know which occupation he had. Maybe he has come from somewhere else to work in the region of Eupen. Since the textile trade was coming up in Eupen and its surroundings.
  • In 1680 the first „Feintuchmanufaktur“ (fine cloth weaving manufactory) was founded in Eupen. The small hand weaving mills continued provisionally and profited from the boom. At that time most weavers were home weavers who worked by order. The completion occurred with the entrepreneur’s, but bit by bit weaving itself was also shifted to the manufactory.
    Ideal conditions on the textile trade in and around Eupen:

    • Wool from sheep from the High Fens, who provided an excellent wool on this elevation
    • Soft moor water, also from the Fens
    • Inexpensive manpower

    This also applies to Aachen, Vaals, Monschau and Verviers.
    It is still visible there in many monuments from the boom period.
    Work at home, winter work for farmers.
    Besides, the guild freedom was valid for Eupen.
    Heavy terms of employment (pneumoconioses, child employment)

    These names also come from the registers of the parish Saint Katharina in Kettenis:

    1713 - The booming of the textile trade in the area of Eupen and Verviers increases, after the Spanish Netherlands fall to the Austrian Habsburgs, particularly during the period of empress Maria Theresia. (1740-1780)

    Major political changes and the beginnings of industrialization

    1789 - Start of the French Revolution
    In 1794, during the French Revolution, the area became a part of France.
    1815 - Congress of Vienna. The region of Eupen becomes a part of the Rhine province of Prussia.
    By the end of the 19th century: Origin of the capital-intensive mechanical weaving industry, particularly in towns (sufficiently man power).
    Home weaving decreases.

    • Nikolaus Severin Joseph Schunck
      06-07-1799 in Kettenis, † 13-11-1865 in Kettenis)
      The last common ancestor of the Belgian and Dutch families Schunck. When he was 16 years old (Congress of Vienna), the region of Eupen became a part of the Rhine province of Prussia. This is why he had to find other sources of raw material and other output markets.
      Hence, it became increasingly more difficult to maintain as an independent hand weaver.
      He passed away, finally, in pneumoconioses, a dreaded weaver's illness.

    1870-1873 - There was still a last upswing, as a result of the German Unification. But finally his heirs had to choose:

    1. Continue, but in that case modernise quite strongly: Severin-Joseph buys out his co-heirs with the returns of 1870-1873 and mechanises the production together with his son Nikolaus.
    2. Work for third parties: Nikolaus, the oldest son, went in Aachen to the weaving mill of Delius.
    3. Emigrate: Wilhelm departed in 1863 for Białystok (pronounce: ByawOOstok) in Russian Poland, Nicholas accompanied him for 3 years. Arnold thought of emigration to New Orleans, eventually he went to Heerlen.
    4. Stay hand weaver, by weaving samples: Arnold.
    5. Something else: Arnold and Ludwig finish wool in Hauset. Arnold’s wife Anna Küppers opens a store in Heerlen.

    Mechanical weaving mill Schunck in Kettenis 1895-1972

    • Severin Joseph Schunck
      ∗ 22-11-1836 in Kettenis, † 02-05-1905 in Kettenis
      1873 Severin-Joseph buys out his co-heirs. (Article of Pierre J.A. Schunck in German)
      His son is already fully jointly responsible at the time.
    • Nikolaus Severin Joseph Schunck
      ∗ 27-03-1869 in Kettenis, † 24-06-1939 in Kettenis
      He builds a new weaving mill behind the house (12 x 20 m) and mechanises (10 looms, powered via drive belts, first with a paraffin engine, then with a locomobile powered by steam).
      Author of a family chronicle. Quote: „Jetzt kam Arbeit auf den Stühlen welche Anfang Juni 1895 die ersten Schüsse taten.“ (Then came work on the looms which did the first shots in early June 1895)
    • Hermann Johann Schunck
      ∗ 13-11-1907 in Kettenis, † 06-05-1988 in Eupen
      Hermann operated the shop from 1939 until 1972.

    Right: Fam. Schunck-Herné, 1895
    Leo - Nikolaus - Heinrich - Josef- Luise - Fina
    Maria - Severin Joseph - Agnes Herné - Carl (Karl)

    Contacts between Kettenis and Heerlen persist.

    An example:

    • Fina Schunck (Gertrud Josephine)
      ∗ 20-03-1875 in Kettenis † in ?
      × Jean Libotte
    • Maria Schunck (Maria Barbara Elisabeth)
      ∗ 20-03-1873 in Kettenis † 12-04-1941 in Heerlen
      × Matthias Hubert Jozef Consten
      Maria learned in Cologne the profession of colonial goods trader.
      In 1893 she starts in the building Schunck in Heerlen a grocery store with her sister Fina.
      In 1894 this store is abandoned because of too strong competition.
      So her uncle Arnold has not remained the only Schunck, who went from Kettenis to Heerlen.

    Right: Fam. Schunck-Deneffe 1909
    Nikolaus - Joseph - August - Henriette - Greta (Gretha) Deneffe - Willy
    Hermann - Rudolf - Maria

    Another example is the friendship between Hermann and Pierre Schunck, who shared among others their love of genealogy. (This has been continued by their respective sons Karl Heinz and Arnold, the author of this site.)

     Double cloth

    From the formative years of Nic. Schunck

    In addition, of course, their interest in weaving - for Hermann his livelihood, for Pierre a hobby that he owed his education as a textile engineer.

    Pictures of the family gathering Schunck Kettenis, August 21, 2011

    … and their descendants

     Nikolaus Severin J. Schunck
    & Gretha Deneffe