June 30, 1842 – October 11, 1927
Col James M. Schoonmaker was the vice president of Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railway Company, whose grand Pittsburgh terminal now serves a new era as Station Square.
A contemporary study of his life is the book, Col. J. M. Schoonmaker and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie railroad; a study of personality and ideals, by Harrington Emerson.
He enlisted at age 18 in the Union Army and served during the Civil War, as Colonel of the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Having greatly distinguished himself in his youth as a soldier during the Civil War, the late Colonel James Martinus Schoonmaker during his later career became eminent as a coal and coke operator, banker and railroad executive. A native and life long resident of the Pittsburgh district, he did much to develop t his section of Western Pennsylvania by his courageous building of railroad lines and by his able management of them. Few men of his generation rendered services of a greater importance to their native state and few men enjoyed .to a greater degree the respect, confidence and admiration of their fellow-citizens.
James Martinus Schoonmaker was born at Allegheny, now a part of Pittsburgh, June 30, 1842, a direct descendant of the early Dutch setters of New York. His parents were James Schoonmaker and Mark Clark Stockton. James was a student at the Western University of Pennsylvania when the Civil war broke out and enlisted in a local company of recruits which was assigned to the 1st Maryland Cavalry. During the ensuing thirteen months, he proved himself repeatedly in battle and in command of his troops.
On August 31, 1865. At the first Memorial Day ceremony of the Grand Army of the Republic, Colonel Schoonmaker was one of its leaders and for the next sixty years he paid homage to his comrades.
In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg in 1913, Colonel Schoonmaker was selected, as the outstanding Civil War veteran of the State of Pennsylvania.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Colonel Schoonmaker was one of the organizers of the Pittsburgh branch of the National Security League.
(Source, Title: Vol.5 Pittsburgh of today, its resources and people, by Frank C. Harper.)
Colonel James M. Schoonmaker married Rachel Cook of Cincinnati. They called their estate on the corner of Ellsworth and Moorwood Avenues “Vollenhouse”.
Their children were:
- Gretchen Vandervoort Schoonmaker (circa 1890 -?) Miss Schoonmaker was a noted sculptress.
- William Henry Schoonmaker (circa 1890 - ?); lived in Montclair NJ
- James M Schoonmaker Jr (Jan, 2, 1888 - Dec, 1 1940) married Mary C. ?
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Col. Schoonmaker was director of Mellon Bank, the Union Trust Company and a member of the Duquesne Club.
He died Oct. 11, 1927 of peritonitis following an appendectomy.
Col. Schoonmaker was 47 at the time of the Johnstown Flood.