William Powell Schoonmaker was born on November 14, 1890, in New York, New York, according to his birth certificate. His parents were William Schoonmaker and Rachel Kortright who resided in Manhattan at 57 Leroy Street.
The 1900 United States Census said Schoonmaker was the fourth of six siblings. The family lived in Manhattan at 550 Hudson Street. Schoonmaker’s father was a porter.
The Schoonmakers were at the same address in the 1905 New York state census.
According to the 1910 census, Schoonmaker was studying art at the YMCA. He lived with his parents in Manhattan at 703 Greenwich Street. His father was an elevator operator.
Who’s Who in New Jersey (1939) said Schoonmaker studied at the Art Students League of New York City from 1909 to 1913. He freelanced in New York from 1913 to 1918, then in Philadelphia from 1918 onward.
Schoonmaker’s illustration for John Martin appeared in Good Housekeeping, October 1913.
Signed in lower right-hand corner
At some point, the Schoonmakers moved to New Jersey. In the 1915 New Jersey state census, they were counted as residents of Richfield Township in Bergen County. Their address was 362 Grand Avenue. Schoonmaker was an artist.
Schoonmaker did the illustrations and decorations for “St. Francis and the Wolf” in John Martin’s Annual 1916.
The Printing Art, May 1917, featured Schoonmaker’s work.
On June 5, 1917, Schoonmaker signed his World War I draft card. His address was the same. His birth was recorded as 1891 instead of 1890. The description of the self-employed artist was stout build, medium height, with brown eyes and hair.
Some Examples of the Work of American Designers (1918) featured the work of several designers including Schoonmaker.
A listing in a 1918 New York City directory said Schoonmaker lived in Leonia, New Jersey and had a studio at 7 West 14th Street.
The Inland Printer, February 1919
On August 9, 1919, Schoonmaker and Corinne Turner, an illustrator, obtained, in Manhattan, marriage license number 22917. It’s not clear how Schoonmaker met Turner who illustrated Blanche Weitbrec’s 1911 book, The Men on Horseback. Did Schoonmaker meet Turner through Weitbrec or vice versa? Whatever the case, Schoonmaker made bookplates for both.
The Printing Art, May 1917
The marriage was short-lived. A death notice appeared in The New York Times, March 21, 1920.
Schoonmaker—March 19, 1920, Corinne Turner, beloved wife of William P. Schoonmaker and daughter of Mary Reeve and the late Richard W. Turner. Funeral services Stephen Merritt Chapel, 223 8th Av., near 21st St., Sunday afternoon, 2 o’clock. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery.
Schoonmaker has not yet been found in the 1920 census.
The Inland Printer, November 1921, featured Schoonmaker’s work.
The Inland Printer, June 1923, showcased the work of William Kittredge who hired Schoonmaker on two projects.
Schoonmaker and Weitbrec were issued a marriage license on December 19, 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They married the following day.
The Art of Lettering (1924) included three pieces by Schoonmaker.
The American Printer, August 5, 1924, printed Schoonmaker’s lettering and design.
In the 1930 census, Schoonmaker and his wife resided at the Gladstone Hotel, 1100 Pine Street, Philadelphia. He was a self-employed commercial artist and she an author of poetry and fiction.
The Canyon News (Texas), January 12, 1933, published a photograph of Schoonmaker and others.
The 1940 census counted the couple at the same location.
Schoonmaker passed away on January 31, 1942 in Philadelphia. The death certificate, at Ancestry.com, said the cause was cerebral hemorrhage due to arteriosclerosis. A death notice appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, February 1, 1942.
Schoonmaker—Jan. 31, Wm. P., husband of Blanche W. Schoonmaker. Funeral services on Tues., at 2 o’clock. Parlors of Mrs. J.L. Snodgrass, 1644 N. 29th st. Cremation West Laurel Cemetery. Friends may call Monday evening, 8 to 10.
One of Schoonmaker’s last works was On Wings of Healing: Prayers and Readings for the Sick and Shut-In (1942). Two Schoonmaker illustrations were published in The Modern Wonder Book of Knowledge (1949).
Weitbrec passed away in 1973.
(Next post on Monday: Ralph Komisarow, Letterer)