Schaefer's: One Hundred Years
A Chesapeake City Legacy - By: Larry Ortt
Joseph Edward Schaefer, Sr. (1861-1923) and Winifred Schmitt Schaefer (1865-1945)
In 1907 Joseph Schaefer, Sr. and his wife Winifred opened a grocery and ship's chandlery business located on the north side of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, just west of the Chesapeake City canal locks. They were the fourth owner of the property, with deeds going back into the early 1800's.
Photo of an original oil painting by Marie Chambers Schaefer (1894-1975) showing how the original Schaefer's business appeared until 1922 when the canal locks and adjacent store property were removed during the conversion of the canal to sea level.
Marie Chambers Schaefer (1894-1975) was the wife of William W. Schaefer (1889-1923), Joseph and Winifred Schaefer's 1st born son. Her artistic talents extended to the kitchen, as she was an excellent cook and responsible for developing the family receipes for the delicious crab cakes, crab imperial and deviled crab dishes. In later years, her daughter Betty Schaefer Ortt faithfully prepared these dishes served at Schaefer's Restaurant.
As ships chandlers, Schaefer's provided launch service, deliveries of groceries and supplies, crews, and later, pilots to ships, yachts, tug boats and dredges. Schaefer's launch "Winifred", shown below (top picture) inside the Chesapeake City locks, also approaching Schaefer's wharf (middle picture), and finally loaded with school teachers from Baltimore on holiday (bottom picture), including Marie Chambers Schaefer. (thus she first met her future husband)
Above: The Winifred west bound through the Chesapeake City canal lock
enroute to berth at Joseph's Schaefer's & Sons. (circa 1915)
Above & below: The Winifred (circa 1915)
The Crew of the Winifred along with schoolmates of cousin Helen Fader from Baltimore.
Left to right: (1)Marie Chambers (Schaefer), (2)Joe Schaefer, Sr., (3)unknown,
(4)unknown, (5)Helen Fader, (6)Violet Fader (Thompson), (7)Bill Schaefer, (8)unknown.
Upon the death of Joseph Schaefer in 1923, Winifred Schaefer, along with the help of her children proceeded with plans to rebuild along the canal. The following photos show the 2nd Schaefer's store adjacent to the Chesapeake City lift bridge.
Winifred's youngest son, John F. Schaefer, (1904-1981) on the front porch of the 2nd store. (circa 1936)
He had the vision of what could be done with the location and the perseverance to carry it through.
Winifred's daughter, Kathryn Schaefer Maloney (1901-1995) on the front porch of the 2nd store. (circa 1936)
Throughout the years, her devotion, hard work and business sense supported her brother John Schaefer's successful endeavors. They were a great team.
Winifred's granddaughter Betty Schaefer Ortt on front porch of the second store. (circa 1936)
Inside the second store. (circa 1940's)
Behind the counter left to right: John Schaefer, Jack Reed, Kathryn Schaefer Maloney and Edith Reed.
Schaefer's Initial Bar/Restaurant (circa 1935)
During 1935, John Schaefer opened a beer garden in a small building constructed behind the second store. This was actually the initial Schaefer's Restaurant, as hard boiled eggs and crab cakes prepared by Winifred Schaefer were available at the bar.
Winifred Schaefer standing outside the initial Bar/Restaurant. (circa 1935)
Behind the bar in the initial Schaefer's Bar/Restaurant. (circa 1935)
Left to right: Uncle Frank (Schmitt) Smith (Winifred's brother), John Schaefer and Pa Murphy. The customer standing in the middle is Arch Foster of nearby Bank Street. The other customers are unknown.
In 1936, John Schaefer greatly enlarged the single story restaurant. The above photo, taken from the lift bridge in April of 1936, shows construction in progress. Note the grocery and ship chandler business in the foreground and the Ericcson Line steam boat wharf and freight house to the left, which was purchased by Schaefer's to expand their marina offering fuel service and dockage. The cluster of three buildings in the center of the photo housed the Wooleyhan Freight Trucking business which was eventually relocated to Wilmington, DE.
Postcard scene of Schaefer's complex looking west from the Lock Street drawbridge approach. (circa 1938)
In the foreground is the yacht Vega, a thirty-nine foot cruiser built in 1927 and owned jointly by John F. Schaefer and his sister Kathryn Schaefer Maloney. To the stern of the Vega is the first pilot launch built to succeed the Winifred and used for changing ship pilots on the C&D Canal which by this time had been converted to sea level and the locks were no longer necessary.
Inside the single story restaurant. (circa 1940)
Behind the bar left to right: long time bar tender Freddy Mebis, John F. Schaefer,
Myrna Lloyd and Bill Reynolds. Bar patrons include local resident Jim Caleb.
Winifred Schaefer's brother, Uncle Frank (Schmitt) Smith presided behind the bar at Schaefer's
during the 1930's. He was very sociable and always well dressed. Below: Uncle Frank toasts
patrons at a table in the old single story Schaefer's Restaurant. (circa late 1930s)
In 1949, a second floor was added to Schaefer's Restaurant. The expanded restaurant can be seen in the photo below. Also, in the lower right corner of this photo you can see the Lock Street bridge approach and the remains of the Chesapeake City drawbridge which was accidently destroyed by a shipping mishap in July of 1942
The new, spacious, and elegant "Chesapeake Room" (above and below) was one of the most exclusive dining facilities in the area, offering the finest seafood menu selections on Maryland's eastern shore. The great food and the outstanding views from the picture windows of ocean going ships passing through the C&D Canal were a huge success. Diners were thrilled to watch Schaefer's launch approach the side of passing ships while exchanging the pilots who climbed rope ladders over open water to and from their duties. The new second floor addition also attracted customers for wedding receptions, anniversary celebrations and other special events. Prior to the addition, these customers had to look elsewhere for such facilities.
Above: Schaefer's Restaurant and Store Complex with expanded marina facilities.
Note the three launches for changing ship pilots, moored to the wharf on the right of the store. The building with the screened porch in the lower left of the photo housed pilots awaiting arrival of their assigned ships. (circa 1956)
Below: A rear view photo of the Schaefer's complex taken from the Rt. 213 bridge over the C&D Canal. The long building in the lower right provided hotel like rooms and conveniences for the pilots staying over between ships and was affectionately referred to as the "Pilot Shack".
"Ortt" standing before the downstairs bar in Schaefer's Restaurant. (circa 1950)
Betty Schaefer Ortt's husband, Lawrence J. Ortt (1914-1998), managed the daily restaurant operation for over twenty years.
In 1966, work was begun to straighten the bend in the canal at Chesapeake City and widen the canal channel to 450 feet. North Chesapeake City lost Canal/Lewis Street which included more than two dozen single family homes, a converted hotel, apartments, plus older vacant buildings which at one time served as stores. In addition, the Schaefer complex lost a considerable amount of land and all of the buildings on the complex eventually had to be demolished. A steel bulkhead was erected along the revised waterfront to protect the remaining Schaefer complex property from erosion while retaining as much land as possible. South Chesapeake City also lost a considerable amount of land during the canal widening but the number of homes lost on the south shore was not as extensive.
During the late 1960s, a new Delmar Market, "Pilot Shack" and wharf were constructed. The Delmar Market is shown above and below. (circa 1968)
Above photo by Lewis Collins
Last but not least, in 1971 plans were made to construct a new restaurant to be known as Schaefer's Canal House. In addition to being very elegant, the new restaurant provided guests with a terrific view of activities on the canal.Passing ships were announced over the public address system and dining guests were informed as to the dimensions, cargo, origin and destination of the vessel.
With the completion of the new restaurant in 1973, everything except Schaefer's Pilot Transfer launch service passed out of the hands of the Schaefer family.
John F. Schaefer and Kathryn Schaefer Maloney
during the opening ceremony at Schaefer's Canal House in 1973.
Post card image of Schaefer's Canal House. (circa 1975)
The building to the left, formerly housing Schaefer's Delmar Market,
had now been converted to Cabin John's Cocktail Lounge.
Postcard showing interior of Cabin John's Cocktail Lounge. (circa 1975)
Postcard showing the entire Schaefer's complex. (circa 1975)
Cabin John's Cocktail Lounge to the left of the Canal House Restaurant. The new "Pilot Shack" to the upper right and behind the Canal House and the pilot launches tied to the wharf on the far right. Bank Street and the intersection of Bank/Lock Streets are visible along the north side of the complex.
Above: Schaefer's Canal House Banquet Facility on the site formerly occupied by Cabin John's Cocktail Lounge and prior to that, Schaefer's Delmar Market.
The year 2007 marked the one-hundred year anniversary of Schaefer's on the canal at Chesapeake City. Today, Joseph and Winifred's great grandson, Chris Ortt and his wife Cindy continue to operate Schaefer's Pilot Transfer service, utilizing modern launches on duty 24-7-365 to change pilot crews on vessels transiting the canal. There are currently two launches, the "Miss Kitty" named after Kathryn Schaefer Malolney and the other named "Betty S.", by Chris in honor of his mother, Betty Schaefer Ortt. These launches are a great deal different from the old original "Winifred" and things have certainly changed through the years, but one Schaefer family descendent is continuing a family business on the canal that was started started over one-hundred years ago.
The pilot launch, "Betty S." up against ships in the canal changing pilots.
Photos by Dick Legates (2006)
Chris and Cindy Ortt on the pilot launch wharf with "Miss Kitty"
and in front of the current pilot shack.
Photos by Lewis Collins
Joseph Edward Schaefer, Sr. (1861-1923) and Winifred Schmitt Schaefer (1865-1945)
(1) Descendants of Joseph Edward Schaefer, Sr. (1861-1923) & Winifred Schmitt (1865-1945)
(2) Children; (Total of 5; all deceased as of 1995 - See below)
(3) Grandchildren; (Total of 6; 3 living as of 2006 - See below)
(4) Great Grandchildren; (Total of 14; 13 living as of 2006 - See below)
(5) Four Generations Only (5th Generation and beyond are not shown)
(2) William Woolley Schaefer, Sr. (1889-1923) - Catherine Marie Chambers (1894-1975)
(3) Doris Marie Schaefer (1917-1995)
(4) No Children
(3) Elizabeth Lee "Betty" Schaefer - Lawrence Jerome Ortt, Sr. (1914-1998)
(4) Lawrence Jerome Ortt, Jr. - Joan Frances Riley
(4) Christopher William Ortt - Cynthia Carolyn Crowe
(4) Jon Philip Ortt
(4) Holly Ann Ortt - Charles Franklin Wadkins, Jr.
(4) Mary Linda Ortt - F. Ronald Symes
(3) William Woolley Schaefer, Jr. (1921-1992) - Barbara Bennett (1922-1995)
(4) William Woolley Schaefer, III (1948-2006)
(4) Stephanie Bennett Schaefer - Robert L. Marrs
(4) Charles Thomas Schaefer
(2) Joseph Edward Schaefer, Jr. (1891-1935) - Edythe Penton Brown (1900-1961)
(3) Mary Edna Schaefer - John Cousins
(4) Mary Louise Cousins - William L. Heaner
(4) Julius Ann "Julie" Cousins - Steven Royce England
(4) John Bertram Cousins - Jackie Ann Hatcher
(3) Helen Joanne Schaefer (1930-1964)
(4) No Children
(3) Kathleen Scharfer - Robert Hill (1932-1991)
(4) Robert Karl Hill - Claire Susan Mulligan
(4) Karen Joanne Hill - Joseph Eldridge Durrell
(4) Eric Ward Hill
(2) Franklin Schaefer (1894-1894)
(2) Kathryn Teresa "Kitty" Schaefer (1901-1995) - John J. "Pat" Maloney (1893-1960)
(3) No Children
(2) John Francis Schaefer (1904-1981) - Helen Gregg (Deceased)
(3) No Children
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