Ella Frederike Steinway (b. February 28, 1871, New York City; d. March 3, 1948, Winter Park, Florida) was the daughter of William's youngest brother, Albert Steinway, and his wife, Louisa Albertine Kreischer Steinway, youngest daughter of Balthasar Kreischer..(1)(8)(9)(11) William noted her birth in his diary: "Mrs. Albert has a fine little girl, in presence of Mother & Johanne, and no Dr. present & Albert away."(Diary, 1871-02-28) Ella married Charles F. Schmidt, Jr., son of wine importer Charles F. Schmidt, Sr., on January 11, 1894, at the Church of the Divine Paternity in New York City.(5)(8)(Diary, 1894-01-11) The marriage produced no children. Ella's husband died on February 5, 1941.(13)
During Ella's earliest years, her Uncle William dutifully recorded her progress, her illnesses, and family occasions with her, noting when she started to walk, outings to Central Park, and occasions with his first two children and those of Albert.(Diary, 1872-06-08, 1873-02-10, 1875-06-13, 1876-07-09) After Albert's death of typhoid fever when Ella was just six, these avuncular reports continued as William and his family included Ella and her sister in many activities.(Diary, 1877-10-07, 1879-12-25, 1891-05-05) William became a surrogate father to Ella, serving as her legal guardian and following her development through her teen years.(Diary, 1878-03-13, 1886-12-24, 1887-04-03) When she reached age 21, William relinquished as a gift to her his executor's commission from her father's estate while assisting with the final settlement.(Diary, 1892-03-03) At the time of her father's death, Ella's one-third of his estate had been worth $400,000.(2) William also participated in or at least noted her several trips abroad, took part in the celebration of her engagement, assisted her with the purchase of her house, and helped with the preparation of her last will and testament.(Diary, 1885-09-03, 1890-07-19, 1892-12-22, 1893-10-05, 1895-05-19) William remained close to Ella following her marriage, noting frequently that she had called on him or dined with him, sometimes with her husband, sometimes by herself, nearly to the date of his death.(Diary, 1894-02-14, 1896-09-17)
In her adult life, Ella demonstrated independence in at least two ways. One was to consider continuing to use her birth name following marriage and the other was to purchase a house in her own name while a single woman.(7) On February 12, 1894, just one month after Ella’s wedding, William noted that he had met with Louisa, Ella’s mother, and talked with her about Ella’s “intention of calling herself Ella Steinway.”(Diary, 1894-02-12) Although there were opportunities to do so, William never reported any direct discussion of the issue with Ella, and he gave no hint as to his feelings on the matter. Moreover, there is nothing in the public record to indicate that Ella persisted in her apparent desire to continue to call herself Ella Steinway.(1)(4)(10)(11)(13) Ella’s engagement to Charles F. Schmidt, Jr. was announced in December of 1892.(Diary, 1892-12-22) The following October, three months before her marriage, she purchased an imposing five-story home at 30 West 69th Street, just off Central Park West. Ella was the sole owner as she was the only purchaser listed on the deed executed at the time of the purchase. (6) Following their marriage, Ella and Charles moved into Ella’s home.(Diary, 1894-03-26, 04-07) This was not to be their last home, nor Ella’s last venture into real estate. In 1914, she built a house in Briarcliff Manor, New York.(3)(4) She and Charles also had a home in Pleasantville, New York.(12) In 1937 they built a winter home in Winter Park, Florida, where Ella died in 1948 at age 77, having lived as a widow for seven years.(1)(11)
1. “A. Steinway’s Daughter Dies,” The New York Times, March 4, 1948, p. 25.
2. “Albert Steinway’s Will,” The New York Times, May 29, 1877, p. 2.
3. Charles, Eleanor, “Westchester Guide: Designer Showhouse,” The New York Times, March 1, 2009, p. WC 18.
4. “Display Ad 48 – No Title,” The New York Times, May 28, 1993, p. C 28.
5. “In and About Wall Street,” The New York Times, January 20, 1894, p. 2.
6. Indenture (deed) for 30 West 69th St. to Ella F. Steinway, executed October 10, 1893, and recorded October 19, 1893, typed transcript.
7. Lewis, Jone Johnson, “Married Women’s Property Act: 1848, New York State: Gains in Women’s Property Rights During the 19th Century,” About.com: Women’s History at http://womenshistory.about.com/od/marriedwomensproperty/a/property_1848ny.html, accessed July 2, 2010.
8. Maniha, Ken, Steinway Family Genealogy, p. 9?
9. “Mrs. Charles F. Schmidt,” Winter Park Topics, Winter Park, Florida, March 12, 1948, p. 8 at http://www.wppl.org/wphistory/newspapers/1948/03-12-1948.pdf, accessed July 2, 2010
10. “Obituary 1 – No Title, The New York Times, June 28, 1926, p. 17.
11. “Obituary 1 – No Title,” The New York Times, March 8, 1948, p. 23.
12. “Two Estates Sold in Westchester: 25 and 17 Acre Properties in Pleasantville and Harrison in New Hands,” The New York Times, October 8, 1941, p. 41.
13. “Wills for Probate,” The New York Times, February 21, 1941, p. 38.