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notes on Johann Peter Schmidt/Smith Sr.

Grandfather to Adam Zender

Born about Fev 23, 1788, died 21 August, 1875

Early Schooling6816 Ridge Ave, Ridgeville, Cook Co. Illinois

1850 census: "Peter Sr & Maria are living next door to his married son Peter Jr. (living at 6816 N. Ridge in the two-story wooden frame house) while they are in the original log cabin at 6806 Ridge. Residing with them is Peter Jr's twin brother, Jacob who has taken his mother's name Bruck."

Burial Expenses of Peter Schmidt Sr:

recorded on ledger page dated "1 Jul 1875"

"funeral & expenses of Father (Peter I) $43.50"

"for burial expenses:....................10.50" 

"July 10 Cash to Mother:................10.00"

Cash for Lot:...................5.00"

On a separate hand Receipt:

"Received Evanston Ill July 10 1875"

"of Peter Smith Esq. the sum of five dollars for lot in St. Henry's Burial ground in the Town of Lake View Cook County Il."

Annie Murphy

on an additional hand receipt:

"Received of P. Schmitt for $19.00 on account of a Cemetery Lot No 4

J. N. Duluer

additional receipt 1850's

Mr. Wac. Glau??in and Edward Murphy worked out.
Rcvd. Ctax in full. for Bishop O Regan in District 184 in the Town of Evanston on Lot #1: 77 acres $3.85 and lot # 2 40 ac $2.00 = $5.85

Jacob Philip Overseer of Highways in District Po.4 Evanston


  • Sailed from Le Havre, France in late May or early June 1840 aboard the Bath, Maine, 440 ton Clipper "France", Master: John H. Marshall. 

    Arrived New York 27 July, 1840, (age 52), with his wife, Anna Maria Bruck, (age 48), and three of his seven children, Peter Jr.,(age 16), his twin brother, Jacob, and their sister, Maria Anna,(age 21).

    Daughters: Elizabeth Barbara Schmidt, (b. 20 Nov 1812) and Anna Maria Schmidt, (b. 2 Aug 1817) are not on the ship's manifest or the passport of May 2, 1840.

    At age 28, it is reasonable to assume that Elizabeth Barbara is married and remains in Germany with her husband. Her spouce's name remains unknown.

    At age 23, it is also reasonable to assume the same for Anna Maria Schmidt.

    A son, Johannes Peter, having died in infancy at age <1, 1815, Malborn)and his brother Johannes (dying at birth, 1826, Malborn, no baptismal record,) are no longer part of the family. 

    Documents show Johann Peter Schmidt's name as Schmitt, Schmit, and Schmidt. He Americanized the name to Smith.
  • 1850 Census:...Ridgeville, Cook Co., Illinois: Johann Peter Sr, (age 62), and Anna Maria, (age 58), are living in the original log cabin at abt. 6806 N Ridge Rd. next door to Peter Jr and wife Elizabeth in their new 2-story wooden frame house at abt. 6816 N. Ridge Rd.

    Johann Peter Sr and Anna Maria's Son (Peter Jr's twin brother) Jacob Bruck Schmidt (26)(he has taken his mother's maiden name)...he is Jacob Bruck on the Census, Jacob Schmidt on the passport...is living with his Father & Mother in the log cabin.
    (see Jacob Smith for the story of a tragic death in the wild west of Aspen Colorado.)

    In Peter Jr.'s big new house little Peter K. (III)(1850) is in his mother Elizabeth's (age 18)arms and she pregnant with the future Baby Jacob (1851)....13 more to come.

    Things must be going well on the farm 9 miles north of Chicago {population 29,963 and growing rapidly.}

    Peter Jr., (age 26), has just last year on May 18th, purchased from his father the farm of 45.63 acres for $400.00...wages at this time are $4.00 per week or $200 per year. [6]
  • 1860 Census: Johann Peter Sr & Anna Maria have left the log cabin and are residing in Dubuque Co, Iowa with now married Jacob and his wife and family. Appears that Mother Anna Maria and son Jacob are close.

    Twin Brother Peter Jr. is a very independent farmer businessman and will shortly (31 Mar 1864 and 18 Aug 1870) buy 2 additional 25 acre plots of land east of Ridge between Pratt and Toughy. He buys these two plots from the Railroad now that it has determined its right-of-way need for the tracks to Milwaukee. 

    Peter Jr's sons in later years would climb the big poplar tree in the back of the 1871 - 6836 N Ridge - house to enter their 2nd story bedrooms; thus avoiding their awaiting Father states Louisa Smith, his daughter.
  • 1870 Census: Johann Peter Sr, (age 82), and wife Anna Maria, (age 78), are back at the 6816 Ridge 2-story wooden frame house with Peter Jr & Elizabeth and their 10 children (some of whom are about to marry.)

    Peter Jr. is in the process of building the new Victorian brick house just a few hundred yards north at 6836 Ridge. (still standing today and still in the family) The mason's have just dug the 100 ft long trench (3ft wide and 2ft deep) so the wagons can dump the lime for mortar-making that will take a year to work before construction begins. The carpenter has quoted and will build for $106.00 (about 6 months work.) The Georgian marble for the fireplace was ordered a year ago but the Civil War has eliminated that source in Georgia and so Michigan veined-white marble will be used instead to create the Paris apartment style fireplace in the front parlor. The 2 Eisenglass stoves, for heating the upstairs and downstairs, will come later. Heating stones on them to place at the foot of your feather-bed will help with the winter nightly cold.

    The population of rabid foxes is up this August and so the men keep their 45 caliber Colt "Peacemakers" close with the rifles in the kitchen "just in case." The family dog was bitten last year and went mad in the orchard and hung himself with his chain. Brother Mike grabbed little sister Louisa when the dog first showed foam, shoved her in the house, grabbed his rifle and chained the dog. Those "Dog Days" of August!!!

    The ice-house, in August, still has blocks from the February cutting of inland-lake-ice and if you are a good kid you can get a shaving to cool you in all this heat.

    Good times are here and the relocation from Malborn/Damflos was worth it all. 

    Elizabeth will yet have 2 more children in the new house, Louisa and Mathias, before she dies in 14 years at age 52 in 1884 leaving Louisa, age 13, as woman of the house. Elizabeth's Mother-in-Law, Anna Maria Bruck, has died in the house 5 years earlier and is at rest in St. Henry's Cemetery with her husband Peter Sr. The Cemetary is just 4 block's south on sandy old Ridge Trail.

    Louisa never knew her three older sisters Mary, who died at age 4 (1857), Catherine who died in her 1st year (1855)and sister Elizabeth who also died when she was 1, (1857). Sister Anna is 22,(1862), married and thus consummed with her family's needs. The deaths of these sisters is during the cholera epidemic of the 1850's that took thousands of Chicagoans. But being 9 miles north of the City it is doubtful the Girls were victims of Cholera. Unless? Contageous? Could a father or brother have carried it?

    Louisa shall provide for her Dad, Peter Jr., who sends her to Paris in 1889. She was the apple of her father's eye. She visits relatives in Damflos/Malborn. She climbs the newly built Eifel Tower...no elevators in those days...and returns with the news of relatives. Her chaperone was 60 year old Herr Muno a relative also escorting his teenage neice.

    When her mother Elizabeth dies Louisa's house has Father, Peter Jr, age 60, brother's: Mathias, age 10, Charles, age 15, Andrew, age 17, and Phillip age 19. 

    She marries at age 24 and 10 years after her Mother's death Frederick Fortmann (from the 2nd farm on Robie St just south of Henry Fortman's farm which abuts their own) on 25 April 1894 in St. Henry's Catholic Church (the second wooden Church...after its predecessor the original 1850 small wood Church). 

    Frederick joins her in her father's house on Ridge. There are only her Father, herself and her husband in the house when she marries. Her father will be with her another 8 years. (He dies intestate in 1902 leaving a legal nightmare.) 

    She will have 4 sons, Fredrick, Lawrence, Edmund (these 3 would know with faint memory their Grandpa)and Joseph in the house. Four boy's is enough...Frederick Fortmann is moved into the new Sun-Room in 1909. It has just been added to the house on the south-side. No pills in those days. Louisa is 35.
  • May 1840, the Port of LeHavre, France, the Port Emmigration Officer records on Johann Peter Schmidt's Passport that he is carrying 6,000 French Francs. At the then prevailig foreign exchange rate of $0.193 franc = $1.00, Johann Peter is carrying $1158.00 US dollars.

    The inflation rate from 1840 to 2007 being approximately 300 times the 1840 dollar, Peter is carrying approximately $347,400 in 2007 dollars.

    Peter and family shall spend $40 for passage across the Great Lakes, $100 for land in Chicago, with the rest going to ship passage across the Atlantic, living expenses in New York, and enough to develop the farm on Ridge Trail.
  • Name:  There has always been a question as to whether the Schmidt name of our lineage was Schmidt or Schmit.............We now know the birth and ancestral name was Schmit(t). The Passport spelling: Schmidt (created by a government clerk in Trier) and the Americanized name Smith.
  • Johann Peter Schmidt, b. 25 February 1788.......Literate? To reach a conclusion we have three original documents dating from 1810 and 1840 that provide us with direct but contradictory evidence. This report shall therefore address the nature of the historical creation of each and the existing mind-set of the writers of each document. The oldest Schmidt document is the Marriage Certificate written at the marriage of Johann Peter Schmidt and Anna Maria Bruck on January 21, 1810 in the Catholic Church records at Zuesch, Germany. (you can see this in "Photo's").................... In examining hand written records of this age, 197 years ago and older, it is wise to remember that much of Europe's population, particularly poor farmer's, laborers and peasants could not read or write well...................... In very small towns such as Damflos, Neuhueton, Marboro, Zinserhaughten and Zuesch, village schools may have existed but children were needed for their labor in farming. Also recall that only 348 years earlier, about 10 generations (we have 10 generations in this genealogy to get to today) from the birth of Simon Schmidt, the "Black Plague" had killed an estimated 100 million people in Europe half of the population. .................... The Marriage Certificate was clearly written by the Catholic Priest of Zuesch. Only he would have written it in Latin. ............... Now imagine the conversation between the priest and Johann Peter. "What is your name Sir?" "Schmidt" would be the reply. Or would it be Schmit? ..................... What is happenening here? .......... The priest is writing what he hears and then writes what his experience suggests is the correct spelling..........Remember the times............How often does a farmer write his name?.........probably the only time he is asked his name is in conjunction with a government document such as a Census..........So what is the probability Peter reads the Marriage Certificate?........It is a document that will stay in the Church Records and never be a personal document of Peter's or Maria's. When you examine the Certificate you will discern that Johann is legible Peter is legible and Schmidt could be Schmidt or Schmitt. ........................................... Its is now March 2, 1840 and Johann Peter is standing in front of the Clerk of Prussian Passports, a government worker who issues many of these documents............... "How old are your Sons, Peter and Jacob?"........"15".........."Ah, you are aware that the boys will have compulsory military service in the Prussian Army when they reach 17?"......."Yes"........."What is your name?"........."Johann Peter Schmidt"................This time we can conjecture that Johann Peter will read the Passport because he shall carry it for years and it is his only legal document of Citizenship. His name, his wife's name, his sons's names and daughter are clearly legible from the script of the Clerk as Schmidt.........Case closed?.......But wait, how does Johann Peter sign his Passport........looks like: "Patar Schmit" (see in Photo's")..........Can Johann Peter really read well?.......The evidence is suggesting that his schooling is very limited.......It would be unheard of to give false testimony in those times....................Now let us view the "France's" Passenger Manifest. A document now required of ship's Master's at each United States Port of debarkation as a result of the 1830 Law passed by Congress.............At the boarding the passenger's passport is taken by the Burser of the ship in order to formulate the passenger manifest............Now let us think here a moment........how is the list to look?............From "A" to "Z" naturally and by family since the wife and children are always on the husbands passport he being the authority of the family. (A mediaeval's trait, of course.)............but lo, the actual passenger list is from"A" to "Z" but not by family but rather age..........with the oldest person toping the list. Thus family members are scattered throughout their alphabetic designator age.........In such a scheme therefore all the Schmidt's are listed as "Schmidt" since that is the name on the original source document, the Passport. What do we conclude:......... a. the family name is properly recorded as "schmidt"........ b. Johann Peter Schmidt was a poorly educated farmer from a small Prussian German village

  • A woodsman/farmer from Damflos, Prussia, Germany
  • The earliest known written record available of Johann Peter's name is his Jan 1, 1810 marriage certificate showing his marriage to Anna Maria Bruck. (see Photo 67) His name is spelled Johann Peter SCHMITT. 

    The next document, his May 2, 1840 Passport, he signs as SCHMIT. 

    On this same Passport, issued by a clerk in Trier, Germany his name is written by the clerk as SCHMIDT. 

    The Clipper ship FRANCE's passenger manifest shows SCHMIDT, indicating it was copied by the ship's burser from Johann Peter's passport.

    Walter Petto, German Geneologist, lists Johann Peter's name as SCHMITT, in his book "Einwohner von Zusch, Neuhutten, Damflos 1574 - 1820." Petto's source was probably Johann's 25 Feb 1788 christening record in the Catholic Church of Zusch, Germany. His actual birth date was probably 1 to 5 days earlier. And being a home birth unrecorded and remembered only by his Mother, Anna Barbara Longfils.

    The weight of evidence therefore suggests the German Family name was SCHMITT although United States Family history from 1850 to the present records the name as Schmidt, which was taken from the Passport.

    Johann Peter Americanized the name to SMITH around 1850

source: David Fortman