Richard Drueke and Betty and Gerhard Becker contributed to this family history.
Index Kassel to Tiffin, 1834 Gold Mine at Mathenias Creek Census Directory Descendants Home Page
John Schmitt Born in 1820
Kassel, 1820-1838. John Schmitt was born on September 19, 1820, in Kassel, which is 32 miles east northeast of Frankfurt. At that time, Kassel was in the Main-Kreis region in the far northwest corner of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Now, Kassel is in the Kinzig-Main-Kreis region in the far south of Hesse.
According to his son Cris J. Smith, John had a brother Henry Smith, born in Germany. Cris had a cousin Mortise, whose death certificate says his father was Henry Smith, born in Germany. According to the 1850 U. S. census, Henry was living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had a son Mathias. In 1928, Cris wrote a letter to his cousin Mortise. No information is available on the parents of John and Henry.
In 1866, Bavaria, Hesse, and other German states sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War. Prussia won the war. In the Treaty of Prague on August 23, 1866, Prussia acquired Hesse, and Hesse acquired three small border districts from Bavaria. One district was Orb, which included Kassel, the Schmitts' home town.
Kassel is small village and is now part of the town of Biebergemund.
Tiffin, 1838-1847. In 1838, when he was 18 years old, John immigrated to America and settled in Tiffin, Ohio. The U.S. flag had 26 stars, the most recent one being for Michigan. The President was Martin Van Buren.
The 1840 U.S. Census for Seneca County, Ohio, shows a Catherine Smith, age 40-49, with a son age 15-19.
In 1841, a spur of The Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad reached Tiffin from Sandusky, a city in northern Ohio on Lake Erie.
Mary Augusta Schickell Born in 1828
Kassel, 1828-1834. Mary Augusta Schickell was born on May 3, 1828, in Kassel, which is 32 miles east northeast of Frankfurt. At that time, Kassel was in the Main-Kreis region in the far northwest corner of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Now, Kassel is in the Kinzig-Main-Kreis region in the far south of Hesse.
In 1866, Bavaria, Hesse, and other German states sided with Austria in the Austro-Prussian War. Prussia won the war. In the Treaty of Prague on August 23, 1866, Prussia acquired Hesse, and Hesse acquired three small border districts from Bavaria. One district was Orb, which included Kassel, the Schickells' home town.
Kassel is small village and is now part of the town of Biebergemund.
Mary Augusta's parents were John Adam and Maria Eva Schumm Schickell. Her father was a music teacher.
Mary Augusta was the fifth of ten children. Only one was living when she was born: Veronica, who was born in 1820. Mary Augusta's sister Anna Appolonia was born in 1822, but died after six months. Her brother John Andonius was born in 1824 but died after 14 months. Her brother John Nepomuk was born in 1826 but died sometime before 1834.
In 1830, Mary Augusta's sister Amalia was born in Kassel.
In 1833, Mary Augusta's brother Peter Crescenz was born in Kassel.
Tiffin, 1834-1847. In 1834, when Mary Augusta was six years old, her family immigrated to Ammerica and settled in Tiffin, Ohio. The U.S. flag had 24 stars, the most recent one being for Missouri. The President was Andrew Jackson.
Mary Augusta Schickell came to America on the sailing ship Johannes. She came with her parents, John Adam and Mary Eva Schumm Schickell, her sisters Veronica and Amalia, and her brother Peter. The family took their horse and wagon to Bremen, where the horse was sold. The wagon, with all their belongings, including musical instruments, was taken aboard ship. The voyage from Bremen to Baltimore lasted 62 days. The ship arrived in Baltimore on November 29, 1834. In Baltimore they stayed with a Jewish family they knew, who had emigrated a year earlier. The family was from Gelnhausen, about five miles west of Kassel. They stayed with this family in Baltimore for 80 days. They bought another horse and set off for Tiffin, Ohio, via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they stayed 14 days, and Canton, Ohio.
They bought 40 acres of land about six miles outside Tiffin and leased another 40 acres. After a year and a half, they traded the land for a house in town belonging to a Doctor Kressbach. Mary Augusta's father opened a music school here. Eventually, he was making $100 a month from the school.
In 1835, Mary Augusta's sister Maria Appolonia was born in Tiffin.
In 1837, Mary Augusta's brother Francis Xavier was born in Tiffin but died shortly thereafter.
In 1839, Mary Augusta's brother Joseph was born in Tiffin.
From January to June in 1842, Charles Dickens took a tour of the United States as far west as St. Louis, including a two-hour stopover in Tiffin on the way back.
In September 1842, Mary Augusta's father opened a German Inn at the Washington Hotel in Tiffin "to provide for the pleasure of the public by means of prompt and courteous service with the most select foods and drinks."
On May 5, 1846, Mary Augusta'a sister Veronica, 25, married Lewis Martin in Tiffin.
John and Mary Augusta Marry in 1847, Have 3 Children
John Schmitt, 27, and Mary Augusta Schickell, 19, were married in Tiffin, Ohio, on September 13, 1847.
A page for special events in John and Mary Schickell Schmitt's family Bible states that "in the year 1849 on February 2nd Johann Schmitt traveled to California from where he returned in the year 1851 on April 7th." The dates coincide with the greatest migration of people to California for the gold rush. It is likely that John was a "Forty-Niner." The 1850 U.S. Census for El Dorado County, California, shows a John Smith, 28, born in Germany, working as a miner, living on Mathenias Creek. Also called Mathenas or Matheneys Creek, this area is near the present-day towns of Diamond Springs and El Dorado on the old Carson Emigrant Trail, about 15 miles south of Sutter's Mill.
It is not certain that the John Smith at Mathenias Creek was our John Smith. Our John Smith would have been 29 instead of 28, but census ages are not very reliable. There also was a John Smith from Germany in the census for Township No. 5 in Tuolumne County, but he was a year younger than the one at Mathenias Creek.
The 1850 U.S. Census for Seneca County, Ohio, shows a Mary A. Smith, 20, born in Germany, and a Mary A, Smith, 1, born in Ohio. They are living with Catherine Smith, 60, born in Germany. There is no John Smith listed, presumably because he was in California.
John and Mary Augusta's first child, Mary Appolonia Schmitt, was born in Tiffin on August 10, 1849. She eventually went by the name Abbie Smith.
On April 7, 1851, John Smith returned to Tiffin from the California. His gold mining days were over. There is no indication that he made a fortune there.
Grand Rapids, 1851-1861. In 1851 or 1852, the Schmitts moved from Tiffin to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
John and Mary Augusta's second child, Crescenz Joseph Schmitt, was born in Grand Rapids on March 21, 1852. He eventually went by the name Cris J. Smith.
On March 29, 1853, John Adam and Maria Eva's daughter Mary Amalia (Emily), 22, married Charles F. Boos, 23, a musician.
In August 1853, Mary Augusta's family, the Schickells, moved to Grand Rapids from Tiffin.
John and Mary Augusta's third child, Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt, was born in Grand Rapids on October 6, 1854.
Sometime between 1855 and 1857, Mary Augusta's sister Veronica Martin and her family moved from Tiffin, Ohio, to Grand Rapids. Veronica's husband Lewis was a grocer and then a dry goods merchant in Grand Rapids.
In 1858, Mary Augusta's sister, Mary Appolonia Schickell, 21, married Francis Boxheimer, 29, at St. Mary's Church. In 1865, Francis became the owner of the Bridge Street House, a hotel on the east side of the Grand River.
In the 1856 and 1859 business directories, John was listed as a saloonkeeper. In 1856 the address of the saloon was given as Front Street. In the 1860 census, the family was living in the 4th Ward of Grand Rapids, and John was listed as a saloonkeeper.
John Dies at Age 40
John Schmitt died in Grand Rapids on March 17, 1861. He was buried in St. Andrew's Cemetery. He was 40 years old. He left a wife and three young children.
Mary Augusta Widowed in 1861 at Age 33
Grand Rapids, 1861-1903. Upon the death of her husband John in 1861, Mary Augusta was widowed at age 33 with thee children, ages 12, 9, and 7. She had been married to John for only 14 years.
Mary Augusta's brother Joseph and Peter both served as regimental band leaders in the Civil War. On June 10, 1861, Joseph, 21, enlisted for three years in the U. S. Army at Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a 2nd Class Musician in the Michigan 3rd Infantry Regiment. On September 7, 1861, Peter, 27, enlisted for three years in the U. S. Army at Cincinnati, Ohio, as a Musician in the Ohio 10th Infantry Regiment. On July 17, 1862, Congress passed a law that ordered the mustering out of regimental bands. Joseph was mustered out in August and Peter in September. On January 5, 1864, Joseph, reenlisted in as a Private in Company B of the 1st Michigan regiment, Engineers and Mechanics. He was promoted to Artificer on November 1, 1964, and Sergeant on April 5, 1865, serving as a regimental band leader without the title and thereby avoiding the 1862 law.
In 1867, Mary Augusta's brother Peter married Ann E. Cordes. Ann was the daughter of John Cordes who, with his brother William, worked at the gold mine at Mathenias Creek in 1849-51 with Mary Augusta's late husband John Schmitt. They lived in Madison, Wisconsin, for a couple years, where their first two children, Anna and Cecilia, were born. By the 1870 census, however, they were back in Grand Rapids, where their third child, Eugenia, was born. Peter was shown as a retail grocer in the 1870 census and a musician in the 1880 census. In the 1889 Grand Rapids city directory, he was a partner in Shinkman and Shickell, engaged in insurance, real estate, and loans.
In 1869, Mary Augusta's daughter Abbie (Mary Appolonia Schmitt) died at home at age 20. Funeral services were held at at St. Mary’s Church. She was buried in St. Andrew's Cemetery.
In the 1870 census, Mary Augusta's son Cris, 18, was listed as a photographer. In the 1872 Grand Rapids directory, at 20, he was listed a musician. In the 1873 and 1874 directories, he was listed as a clerk at the grocery store of his uncle, Peter Schickell on Front Street. His uncle also was a musician. In the 1875 directory, he again was listed as a musician. He continued to work as a musician for the rest of his career.
Starting with the 1867 Grand Rapids city directory, Mary Augusta was listed as living at Gold and Washington. Later, this was specified as 44 Gold Avenue. In 1874, Washington was changed to Sibley and 44 was changed to 105. In 1893, when a new house was built on the lot, the number was changed to 113 Gold. In 1912, the number was changed to the present address of 151 Gold Avenue NW. This was the southwest corner of Gold and Sibley Street. The 1893 house is still there and occupied by Marilyn Hamill, who is preserving and restoring the house.
On August 11, 1875, Mary Augusta's sister Veronica Schickell Martin died at age 54.
Maria Augusta's mother, Maria Eva Schumm Schickell, 78, died in Grand Rapids on September 24, 1878. Her father John Adam Schickell, 83, died May 10, 1879.
In 1872, Mary Augusta Schickell Schmitt, married Frederick W. Cordes, and he moved into the house at 44 Gold. He was born in 1834, the son of Anton Cordes and Maria Platte. He had been a grocer, but was listed as a laborer in the 1873-75 directories. He was the brother of John and William Cordes, who were with Mary Augusta's husband John at the Mathenias Creek gold mine in El Dorado County in 1850. His wife Adelaide had died in 1869 at age 26. Mary Augusta and Frederick were divorced in 1876. Frederick died in 1891 and was buried with his first wife Adelaide at St. Andrew's Cemetery.
On Thursday, June 17, 1880, Mary Augusta's son Cris J. Smith, 28, and Christine Koch, 20, were married in Grand Rapids. Christine was the daughter of a funeral director, William Koch. Following their marriage, they lived in Grand Rapids with Christine's parents at 109 California Street, at the corner of Straight Street. This was nine blocks west of the Grand River and six blocks south of Bridge Street.
In 1882, Cris and Christine had a daughter, Rose Viola.
On May 23, 1882, Mary Augusta's daughter, Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt, married Charles Andrew Hauser. They were married at St. Mary's Church by Father Joseph G, Ehrenstrasser, pastor. They lived in the Schmitt home at 105 Gold.
In 1887, Cris' wife Christine died at age 27, leaving Cris, 35, a widower with one child. His daughter Rose Viola would have been five years old. Cris and his daughter Rose Viola continued to live with Christine's parents, the Kochs.
In 1889, Cris and his daughter Rose Viola moved from the Koch home at 109 California Street to the Hauser home at 105 Gold Street. Cris' sister, Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt had married Charles Andrew Hauser in 1882, and they lived with Mary Augusta Schickell Schmitt, the mother of Cris and Rosa Wilhelmina. Rose Viola referred to Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt Hauser as "Tante" and Charles Hauser as "Uncle Charlie." The Hausers had no children of their own.
Mary Augusta's son Cris J. Smith, 37, married Mary A. Hauser, 20, in Grand Rapids on May 25, 1889. Mary A. Hauser was the younger sister of Mary Augusta's son-in-law, Charles Hauser. Following their marriage, Cris and Mary continued to live at 105 Gold Street. Cris continued to work as a musician. On August 5, 1890, Cris and Mary had their first child, Crescenz L. Smith.
In 1892-93, Charles Hauser built a new house on the site of 105 Gold Avenue and 50 Sibley Street. The new address was 113 Gold Avenue (151 Gold Avenue NW after 1912).
In 1893, Mary Augusta's son Cris and his wife Mary Hauser Smith moved to Chicago to further Cris' career as a musician. Rose and Crescenz stayed in Grand Rapids with the Hauser family. In 1894, Cris and Mary Hauser Smith had their second child, Leroy A. Smith. In 1896, Cris and Mary Hauser Smith had their third child, Karl H. Smith.
Mary Augusta's son Cris was widowed for the second time in his life upon the death of his second wife Mary Hauser Smith sometime between 1900 and 1910.
Mary Augusta Schickell Schmitt Dies at Age 75 in 1903
Mary Augusta Schickell Schmitt died April 24, 1903. She was 75 years old. She was survived by her son Cris J. Smith, her daughter Rosa Wilhelmina Schmitt Hauser, and four grandchildren. She died at the home of her daughter, where she resided. She was buried in St. Andrew's Cemetery, alongside her husband John, who had died 42 years earlier.
The Grand Rapids Herald, Sunday, April 26, 1903
John and Mary Augusta: 3 children, 4 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren
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