Johnstown Flood 1889

The John Schultz family home was impaled by a tree and carried several blocks from its original site during the Johnstown flood of 1889. All six members of the family survived

Louis Weinzierl; his wife, Mary; and six of his nine children were lost in the Johnstown Flood on May 31, 1889.

Now, a distant relative is seeking information about the Weinzierl family for a genealogy project.

Ruthie McConnell, of Altoona, is looking for relatives of Jacob Weinzierl – her great-grandfather – who was born in 1811 and died in 1880.

Louis Weinzierl was Jacob’s brother.

“We’re looking for the Johns-town history; it’s precious history that needs to be preserved,” she said. “This is simply being done for the beauty of my grandchildren to know where they came from.”

A discovery by a family member inspired Ruthie McConnell to delve into her family genealogy.

In December, her second cousin found in his basement a record of the family and gave it to her. Upon reviewing it, she decided it needed to be updated.

McConnell, who grew up in St. Marys, Elk County, said she knows of a woman in St. Marys who does genealogy as a hobby and is working with her on compiling additional information.

“The impetus for this whole thing is, I’m a grandmother now and want this for my grandchildren,” she said. “My eighth grandchild will be born in August and I want her in it.”

Jacob Weinzierl emigrated from Regenberg, Bavaria, Germany, to America and settled in the Johnstown area.

Three of his six children stayed in Johnstown and raised their families, McConnell said. 

They include Michael and Louis Weinzierl and Catherine Weinzierl Bodenshatz.

Additional family names may include Betz, Bishop, Bodenshatz, Brown, Buck, Callahan, Cauffiel, Cochran, Dempfl, Eggie, Endler, Haddon, Hutchinson, Kurtz, Link, Long, Martin, Ritter, Robine, Rosage, Simendinger, Solomon, Symon, Wagner, Werfel, Weinzierl, White, Woods and Zentack.

McConnell said with more information she hopes to bring the genealogy current – extending it into ninth and 10th generations.

Anyone who can help or would like a more detailed genealogy is asked to email McConnell at

A deadline of June 30 has been set to get information to McConnell for a fall printing of the updated genealogy.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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