John Schoonmaker was born April 2, 1842 in Winnebago Township, Winnebago County, Illinois, the son of Henry and Mary Schoonmaker. He initially enlisted on August 11, 1862 in Company E, 74th Illinois Infantry, where he served for just 5 months. At his enlistment, he was described as being 20 years old, 5’9″ tall, light complexion, gray eyes, light hair, and by occupation, a farmer. In his short term of service, he saw action in his first major engagement at Perryville, Kentucky. He was soon discharged for disability. His discharge papers claimed he had “hypertrophy of the heart” which was present before his enlistment, but grew worse due to exposure. The examining physician declared that “he can be of no use to the service.” His condition was so bad that his brother, William, said upon his return, “he was a hard-looking man. I hardly recognized him as my brother.”
After recovering at home, John again enlisted for the Union cause, joining Battery G, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery in January 1864, and returning at the conclusion of their service in September of 1865.
After the war, he married L.L.M. Posson in 1868, and they had three daughters: Ella (b. 1869); Fannie (b. 1874); and Maggie (b. 1877). The Schoonmakers farmed in Winnebago Township, and moved to Rockford in their later years to retire. John Schoonmaker died Mar. 23, 1927, and is buried in Winnebago Cemetery
SOURCES: John Schoonmaker partial pension file, National Archives (provided through courtesy and generous donation of Del & Phyllis Tedrick); Charles A Church, Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois, Together with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Leading and Prominent Citizens and Illustrious Dead. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1905.