Name: Alphonse Andrew (Allie) Skroch, detail
Parents: Andrew Skroch and Agnes Kamla
Lineage: Andrew , Jacob, Valentin , Michael, Jacob
Spouses: 2
Children: 4

DOB: 29 Apr 1905
POB: Independence (Trempealeau Co.), WI
DOD: 09 Jan 1989
POD: Arcadia (Trempealeau Co.), WI
Spouse: Armenia (Arnie) Byrne, detail
Spouse Parents: John Patrick Byrne and Viola Shwartcoff
Married: 14 Jun 1934, Galesvile, WI
DOB: Jan 25, 1912
POB:  Galesville, WI
DOD: 26 Dec 1935
POD: Independence, WI
Donald John, 14 Feb 1935

Spouse2: Louise Hazel Stelmach (detail )
Spouse Parents: Peter Stelmach & Thurza Mollie (Maud) Noel
Married: 30 Aug 1938, St. Peter & Paul Church, Independence, WI

DOB: 6 Aug 1912
POB: Arcadia (Trempealeau Co.), WI
DOD:  13 Jan 1992
POD: Arcadia (Trempealeau Co.), WI
Louise Mae (Lois) [Braun], 30 Jan 1939
Caroline Marie (Carol) [Hoesley], 07 June 1940
Gary Michael Skroch, 31 May 1954

Detail: Alphonse Andrew (Allie) Skroch

Alphonse "Allie" Andrew Skroch    b.4-29-1905 in Independence, Trempealeau Co., WI     m1.6-19-1934 in Galesville, WI     m2.8-30-1938 in Arcadia, Trempealeau Co., WI    d.1-9-1989 in Arcadia, Trempealeau Co., WI

Source: Carol (Skroch) Hoesley

Dad was a part-time umpire, he always wanted to raise chickens, he was a very good dancer, loved rootbeer floats, an avid pheasant hunter and fisherman, could not swim, and was everyone’s friend.

Source: Donald John Skroch

Dad was a Bootlegger in his teens and early 20s. I can remember him making bathtub gin when I was very young. He also was a butcher for 50 years, and made the best Polish sausage I ever tasted.

Source: Email from Andrew Klimek, 1 Nov 2002 to Michael J. Skroch:

Mike, This is going to blow  you away.  I was totally unaware of you, as a Mike Skroch.  The Mike Skroch I knew was the son of  a Mike Skroch, an old long time farmer in Independence.  I did however know your Father, Donald.  We knew him better as "Cotton Top", but both my wife and I knew him, and I also knew your Grandpa, Allie.  He used to work for My Uncles in the butchershop in Independence..  Smieja Brothers Meat Market.  My Mother eas Agatha Smieja, anbd her mother was  I believe Julia Skroch.  She died giving birth to my Uncle, Sylvester Smieja.  He owned Sylver's Bar in Independence, for years..  Julia was married to Kasper Smieja.  The immigration documents for that family spelled their nam, Schmieja, and they came from Salzbrunn, Prussia.  Where Salzbrunn is located in relation to present day Poland, I don't know, but perhaps, it was near Popielow.  Those borders over there changed almost daily, from what I could gather.  I knew all of the Skroch's in Indep, and there was a ton of them.  Some were not related to others.  Much as the Klimek's in Indep.  Ask your Grandpa if he remembers me.  Ask him if he remembers an old guy by the name of "Schnoopsie"   If he does, I will tell you a story about your Grandpa and this Schnoopsie.  OK?   I will get some of the Popielow pix on scanner and send them to you, but not tonight.  Takje care of yourselvesand God Bless you .  Andy

Obituary, an Arcadia paper:

Alphonse (Allie) Skroch, 83, Arcadia, died Monday, Jan 9th at St. Joseph's Hospital in Arcadia.  He was born in Independence, WI on April 29, 1905, to Andrew and Agnes Kamla Skroch.  He married Hazel Stelmach on Aug. 29, 1938, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help catholic Church in Arcadia.  He was a meat cutter for 30 years at Smieja's Market in Independence.  he had also worked at Robert's IGA in Bangor, an IGA store in Tomah, and the Farmer's Store in Arcadia.  Survivors include his wife, Hazel, Arcadia; two daughters, Carol Hoesley, of Florida, and Louise (Lois) M. Braun, Arcadia; two sons, Donald J. of Branford Conn. and gary M. of Arcadia; seven grandchildren, three sisters, Elanor Arensman of San Bernadino, Calif., Eva Folkendahl of Milwaukee, and Clothilda Maule, La Crescent, Minn.; and one brother, Adrian, of Bloomer.  His parents, two brothers and one sister preceded him in death.  A mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. today (Thursday) at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, Rev. Lawrence Dunklee officiating.  Spring burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.  Friends may call from 4-9 p.m. Wednesday and from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Wozney Funeral Home.  A prayer service will be held at 7:30 p.m. and a rosary will be recited at 8 p.m. at the funeral home.  Pallbearers will be Joseph Meinerz, John Thomas, Lloyd Kostner, Jim Kampa, Paul Skroch and Bob Feuling.
Butcher Shop, Bangor, WI

Lois - Allie - Carol
Taken in Bangor, WI

Donald, Lois, Carol, Gary
Alphone's Children
Taken during Gary's wedding day?

Detail: Armenia Byrne

'+Armina "Arnie" Agnes Byrne    b.1-25-1912 in Gale, Trempealeau Co., WI    m.6-19-1934 in Galesville, WI    d.12-26-1935 in Independence, Trempealeau Co., WI (parents: John Byrne + Willa Mae Schwerzhoff)

Source: Donald John Skroch

Armenia was born in Galesville died in Independence at home of Scarlet Fever.  Armenia was a school teacher when Dad married her. Her father was John Byrne.   I know he died on the farm in Galesville. Her mother was Viola Shwartcoff who died in LaCrosse, WI.  Arnie is what Armenia's brothers and sisters called her. She had 4 sisters: Rosesalla, Maude, Ronnie, Elisabeth (Betty Haug), and two brothers I think -- Edmund, and Joesph.  I Know that Joe Byrne Jr. has the entire Family history on the Byrne family. I think he lives in Phoenix Az.

Alphonse and Armenia 
on the day of their 
Picture taken in 1929, from Maude (Byrne) Feeney (Armenia's sister) given to Donald Skroch.  Note on back says "born on Jan. 25 (no year) Died on
Dec. 26th 1935."

As reported by Joe Byrn in a conversation wtih Mary Kay Feeney in 2003 (Mary Kay is Maude's daughter; Maude is Armenia's sister.):  "According to Maude, Armena died of Scarlett fever. She was attended to by a doctor Mayo, one of the Mayo brothers of the Rochester clinic. (Before they became famous.)  Vila and Maude came up to Independence to help care for Armena. Vila came from Crystal Valley and Maude came from Prarie du Chien with her new baby daughter, Pat. Since Maude was a registered nurse, they thought Armena could get better care.  The doctor immediately sent Maude and Pat away, saying that he was going to put the house under quarantine and that it was too risky having a baby [assume Donald Skroch] around Scarlet fever."


Image of the Byrne children provided by Joe Byrne, Jr.  Date ~1934 by Joe's estimate.

Email from Joe Byrne Jr. to Donald Skroch, 22 Aug 2013:
Subject: Crystal Valley School
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2013 19:50:59 -0700
To: don

I just got your forward of the animal photos.  Cute.  I was reorganizing some of my photos and came across this one of a Crystal Valley School class in 1933. I may have sent it to your before, but this time I am also sending an exterior photo of the school and a seating chart. The classroom photo is amazing in that it includes your mother, my dad and our aunt Betty.  It also includes a whole bunch of Schwarzhoff first cousins. In my seating chart comments I forgot to cite Charlotte Beirne.  She was a granddaughter of Josephine Schwarzhoff Craig, our grandmother's oldest sister.  Some Beirne's still live in Ettrick.  Except for a couple of marriages, our Byrnes/Beirnes are not otherwise connected.  Your son might want to add this to his records. Is he still in Albuquerque?

I hope your are not too close to any of those sinkholes.

Joe Byrne, Jr

Crystal Valley
                            School circa 1975

Crystal Valley
                            School 1933 Classroom

Below is the caption under the photo which was writeen by Robyn Docken, the editor of the on-line newsletter which published the phto circa 2000. 
This editor used comments as remembered by Tillie Johnson who gave the photo to Robyn.

(Starting wth the first row on the left of the photo going from front to back.)
First row: (?), Ann Larkin, Magna Oines, Vangelin Jones, Howerd O'Neill.
Second row: Tilman Johnson, Joy Byrne, Kjaten Oines, (?), Cory (?)
Standing between third and fourth rows: teacher Armenia Byrne
Third row:  Bill Schwarzhooff, Enor Oines, (?), (?), Gene Schwarzhoff
Fourth Row (?), Pat Schwarzhoff, Clayton Flood, Marion Larkin, (?)
Fifth Row: Wendle Herman, Ed Schwarzhoff, Betty Byrne, (?), Charlotte Beirne

Notes by Jo Byrne, Jr:
Tillman (Tillie) was Joe Byrne's best friend in school.
Ann Larkin's face is blocked by Tillie Johnson's head.
The teacher Armenia Byrne, was an odler syster of Jo Byrne and Betty Byrne.
Bill, Gene, Pat and Ed Schwarzhoff are all children of George Schwarzhoff.who was Armenia's uncle, being the brother of Armenia's mother Vila.  Bill, Gene, Pat and Ed are Armenia's first cousins.
Nine of the 24 students in this class were therefore close relatives of Armenia.
This phot was taken for either the 1932/33 or 1933/34 school year depending on time of year.
Armenia was married June of 1934, not too long after this photo was taken.

Detail: Byrne Family


The following is an expansion of the Byrne family background.  Reverse family tree from Armenia (Byrne) Skroch is shown here:

Armenia (Byrne) Skroch - married Alphonse Skroch
John Patrick Byrne - father
John Byrne - grandfather
Mary (Browne) Byrne - grandmother
Villa (Schwarzhoff) Byrne - mother
Joseph Theodore Schwarzhoff - grandfather
Katherine (Eck) Schwarzhoff - grandmother

Picture of the Schwartzoff, family taken circa 1902, courtesy of Joe Byrne.  Link to Byrne Family is fromVila.

Joe Byrne wrote: "Vila is the mother of Maude, Armenia, Eddie, Vincint, Veronica, Rosela, Joe, and Elizaeth. [see picture above]  Joseph Tehodore Schwartzoff and Katherine (Eck) Schwarzhoff were Vila's parents.  Josephine (Schwarzhoff) Schaller was Joseph's sister; she married Herman Schaller. Phene (Schwartzhoff) Criag married Henry Craig."
Schwarzoff Family - Herman Schaller,
                            Art Schaller, Letta Schaller, LaVerne
                            Schaller, Lev Schaller, Josephine
                            Schwartzhoff Schaller, Herman Schwarzhoff,
                            George Schaller, George Schwarzhoff, Joseph
                            Theodore Schwarzhoff, Maria Schwartzoff,
                            Katherine Eck Schwarzhoff, Anna Schwarzhoff,
                            Clara Schwarzhoff, Ethel Craig, Alex
                            Schwarzhoff, Henry Craig, Roger Craig, Phene
                            Craig Schwarzhoff, Vila Schwarzhoff
Image courtesy Joe Byrne who wrote, "John & Mary Byrne, married 19 Oct 1865.  This portrait taken circa 1880 in Galesville, WI.  John Patrick is Armenia's father."
John & Mary Byrne Family - John
                            Patrick Byrne, Molly Byrne, John Byrne,
                            Maggie Byrne, Bessie Byrne, Tom Byrne, Mary
                            (Browne) Byrne, Winnie Byrne, Bernie Byrne,
                            Bill Byrne, James Byrne

Sent: Friday, December 28, 2007 2:51 PM
To: Byrne Alberta, Byrne Jeff, Davis Paula, Byrne Steve, Gagnon Becky, Feeney Mary Kay, Skroch Don
Subject: Margaret Byrne Photo

Happy almost new year:

Our second cousin, Peggy (Poss) Beirne, sent me this photo of our 
grand aunt Maggie Byrne.  She was an older sister of our grandfather, 
John Patrick Byrne, and of Peggy's grandfather, William Hugh Byrne.  
Barbara thought she was rather elegantly dressed.    She never 
married and died in 1928.

I figure the picture was taken around 1905.  (She was born in 1868 
and I think she looks around age 37.  Does the hat look vintage 1905?)

Does anyone have any ideas about when the photo was taken?  Her 
apparent age?  Does anyone know where she is buried?

Love,  JOE

Wedding portait taken in 1908 of  Vila (Schwartzoff) Byrne and John Patrick Byrne, parents of Armenia (Byrne) Skroch.
John Byrn & Villa
                          (Schwartzhoff) Byrne wedding portrait, 1908

Here is a revised version of a bioigraphical sketch.  Thanks particularly go to my dad and to Marian Byrne.  Corrections and additions would be greatly appreciated.  Joe Jr , 8 Feb 2004

     Kathrine (Eck) Schwarzhoff was born in Waterloo Township, Allamakee County, Iowa in 1863.  The 1870 U.S. census shows her living with her parents, Benedict (Barney) and Mary.   In the 1880 census for Waterloo, Katherine was not listed with her parents and younger siblings.  She was already eighteen and living with a neighboring family, the Teodor Roerkou family.  She was listed with this family as a laborer.  Since this family had three small children, her main job was probably helping Mrs Roerkou keep house and raise the children.  By 1883, she was married to Joseph Schwarzhoff (Jr), and living with him in Codington County, South Dakota.  By 1894, six of her nine children were born and they were living in the Amsterdam area of northern LaCrosse County, Wisconsin.  (see Joseph Theodor Schwarzhoff Jr.)

     Sometime after 1900 Kathrine and Joseph Theodore Schwarzhoff Jr. settled on a farm in Crystal Valley north of Galesville and probably lived in the valley until 1942 when Joseph died.  After WWII, Kathrine lived with her daughter, Vila, in Holmen, where Vila owned and ran a small hotel/restaurant/bar.  When Kathrine died in 1947, she was buried in a famliy plot that Vila had previously purchased in Pine Cliff Cemetery in Galesville.

     Marion Byrne (a granddaughter) described her grandmother as a large woman who made good, large, white cookies.  She was a hard worker and had a big garden from which she got the fruit and vegetables for her annual, massive canning projects.  In addition, she made terriffic bread which was always in good supply at her house.  No matter how busy she was with baking and canning, she was alway ready to grab her coat and go with you wherever you were going on a visit.  She also frequently visited family and friends in South Dakota.  Kathrine loved to play double pinnocle.  Marion reports she was taught at a young age to play the game in order to assure that there was always a fourth person around to play.  Marion also says she still has Kathrine’s old sewing machine in her basement.

     Uncle Hermie was grandma’s son.  He was a large man and visited her often.

     Uncle Alex was another of grandma’s sons.  He lived with grandma and grandpa.  He drank a lot and was a very good carpenter.  If anyone wanted a barn built he was one of the best.  He had a car but drank too much to drive safely.  Marian’s dad used to say, “There goes Alex, he’s been drinking again.”  Alex always held his head high like looking at the sky.  He had a son, Harold, who lived with grandma.  Alex tried real hard to play the banjo, but was never any good.

     Joe Byrne (Sr) says the same thing about Alex -- he was an excellent carpenter and could plan a structure in his head and build it perfectly.  The people who hired him, however, learned that they should never pay him in advance, otherwise he would be off drinking and the construction would be significantly delayed.  Alex and Harold lived with “grandma” because Alex’ wife died shortly after Harold was born.  Kathrine did most of young Harold’s parenting.

     According to Marian, most of grandma’s children (my mother, Vila, George, Anna, Marie, Alex and Josephine) all lived in or near Galesville. On Sunday we visited a lot.  When we went to Dick’s (Marie’s), we always made ice cream which was quite a treat.  They lived in Silver Creek, which was just before Galesville on the way in from Crystal Valley.  Anna later lived near Ettrick.  Roseanne, Anna’s daughter, and I spent a lot of time at each other’s house.

  Marian remembers a lot of house parties - everyone came.  Lots of food.  “We could always jump on beds then, nobody heard us.”  (Too much talking.)  Families were close - always helping one another.  They let everyone borrow things, clothes, dishes, machinery, horses.  Everyone was always busy, but had time for entertaining friends and relatives.  Crystal Valley School was full of Schwarzhoffs.  We had community club on Friday once a month.  Different people on the committee were in charge of food, program and entertainment.  We would pile up the desks and have a small band and everyone danced.  Bill Dick played violin, Agnes’ daughter played piano.  The Scorset Boys from Decorah Prarie would come with banjo and accordion and play.  We had good times.

     (interview with Joe Byrne, Sr.)

     Grandson Joseph Byrne remembers his Grandma Schwarzhoff being a very determined lady.  She was a good German Catholic, but had decided that the rigid meatless Friday law was just not practical for a farm family like hers.  She therefore “ruled” that liver did not qualify as meat and served it on Fridays along with eggs, fish, etc.  Joe was too young to remember how the Irish Catholic Byrnes (Vila’s in-laws) reacted to this idea.  Nor is it known how the St. Mary’s pastor in Galesville reacted.

Here is an updated biographical sketch of Joseph.  The "socks" story comes from Marian Byrne.  Any corrections and additions will be appreciated.  Joe Jr , 8 Feb 2004

     Joseph Theodore Schwarzhoff Jr. was born 2 Sept 1863 in Dorchester, Iowa.  He died 13 Dec 1942, in either Galesville or Whitehall, WI.  Anna Schwarzhoff’s record book says Joseph was born in Highlandville, Minnesota.  There actually is little disagreement about his birthplce since Dorchester, Highlandville, and Bergen Bee, another place his father lived, are all near each other, straddling the Iowa-Minnesota border just west of the Mississippi River.

     Joseph was the son of Joseph Schwarzhoff (Sr) and Elizabeth Pieper, who had only one other child, a younger duaghter named Josephine.  The 1870 U.S. census shows the family living in Hightown Township in Winnishiek County, Iowa.  Joseph was six and Josephine was one.   By 1880, when Joseph was sixteen, the family had moved to a farm in Codington County, S.D., Township 117.

     Joseph’s paternal uncles,Theodor and Christopher, still farmed in Allamakee County Iowa and close family contacts must have been maintained because he married the daughter of Benedict and Mary Eck, longtime neighbors of the Schwarzhoffs in Waterloo Township.  Holy Rosary Church records in Kranzburg, S.D. show that he and Katherine Eck were married on 1 May 1883.  Anna’s record book says that they were married on 15 August 1882.  Either way, they were both about nineteen or twenty when married.  Maude Byrne said he was in a seminary for a short time studying for the priesthood.  If so, it would have been a “minor seminary” (e.g. a high school).

     Anna’s record book shows that the four oldest children of Joseph and Kathrine were born in Codington County.  Presumably, they lived with his parents and his sister.  The next two children, Vila and George, were born in 1890 and 1892, respectively, and were born in Webster, Day County, South Dakota.  The last three children (Maria, Herman, and Anna) were born in Wisconsin.
It seems that Joseph, Kathrine and children (and perhaps his parents and sister also) tried for a living in Webster County for a few of years, from around 1889 to around 1893, and then decided to move to Wisconsin.

     Census records for 1900 show that Joseph’s father, Joseph Sr., was living back in Allamakee County.  Family accounts indicate that Josephine, Joseph’s sister, also moved to Wisconsin with Joseph and his family.  It seems safe to conclude that the whole family, Joseph, his father, and his sister, all decided to leave South Dakota sometime around 1893.

     The family’s first few years in Wisconsin (c1893 - 1896) were spent in Amsterdam, Jackson County accourding to the birth locations for Marie and Herman given in Anna’s record book.  Anna, herself, was born in 1898 in Burr Oak, also in northern LaCrosse County.  At present there is no census record for the family in 1900.  They are found on the 1910 census records for Crystal Valley.  According to Joe Byrne (Sr) their first home in Crystal Valley was at the far East end of the valley,  but later they bought and lived on another farm across the road (south) from one that son George was to later buy  Sometime after 1920, they traded farms/houses with daughter Vila Byrne.  Vila had married John Byrne whose family owned the farm immediately to the west of the Schwarzhoff farm.  Vila needed the larger house for her family. Since the last of Joseph’s and Kathrine’s children, Anna, left home when she married in 1922, the swap made a lot of sense. This smaller house/farm was later owned by Pat Schwarzhoff Knepper and her husband.

     Kathrine and Joseph probably lived in Crystal Valley until 1942 when Joseph died.  However, grandson Joe Byrne says that towards the end of his life (early/middle 1942), Joseph had to be sent to a sanitarium in Whitehall because the family could not take care of him.  Joseph was buried in Pine Cliff Cemetery.

     According to Maude, “grandpa” tended to drink too much in his later years if allowed to.  Kathrine therefore gave him a daily ration of about two shots in a little ceramic jug with a small cork stopper.  Presumably, he carried this little jug around with him in a pocket and carefully nursed it throughout the day.  Grandpa’s problem was apparently hereditary.  His son, Alex, was also known for his alcohol consumption capacity.

     Marian Byrne writes that Grandpa was of German stock.  “He used to talk to Mrs. Alseth up the valley who only spoke Norweigan.”  Evidentally the two languages are similar.  He did a lot of walking and never drove a car.  He used to sit by an old stove and never talked much, and never did much.  “They had a barn below their house, but it burned in 1936 when I was in grade school."  He used to wear his socks so the heel was on top.  That way the heels wouldn’t wear out so fast.  He slept upstairs in his own small room.

Detail: Louise Hazel (Hazel) Stelmach 

 +Louise Hazel Stelmach    b.8-6-1912 in Arcadia, Trempealeau Co., WI    m.8-30-1938 in Arcadia, Trempealeau Co., WI     d.1-13-1992 in Arcadia, Trempealeau Co., WI

Mother: Thurza Mollie (Maud) Noel (detail )
Father: Peter Stelmach (detail )


Detail: Peter & Maud Stelmach

Mother: Thurza Mollie (Maud) Noel
Born: 01 Dec 1880, Graceville, MN

Father: Peter Stelmach
Born: Germany, 25 Feb 1869

Updated: 1 Jan 2014