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SCHMIDT, Ludwig H. (1838-1884)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 12/18/2018 at 11:17:18

Ludwig H. Schmidt
(June 8, 1838 - September 8, 1884)

The Life of Ludwig Schmidt, My Grandfather
"America is heir to all the world. Do not cut off any part of what is rightfully yours. Do not fear lest the Pantheon of many national ideals turn into a pandemonium— for the American spirit is large enough to harmonize them all." —The Land Where Hatred Expires—Albert Gaurard
Herr Schmidt put on his glasses to read more carefully this piece of literature. It interested him immensely, and news of America had its charm for him. His reading was interrupted by a visit from one of his parishioners, for Herr Schmidt was a minister and the school master in a small town of Elmshorn in Schleswig-Holstein. Even this double occupation did not prevent financial difficulties, when there were six in the family to be fed and clothed and educated.
The more he thought of this article, the more he thought of a new life in America where there would be more freedom and a better chance for a living.
Herr Schmidt's youngest son, Ludwig, was born in 1838 and baptized in the Lutheran faith of his father. He was not an unusual child intellectually, but like his father who composed music, showed marked talent at the piano. Ludwig's entire education was under his father and not very extensive.
For nine years after the birth of Ludwig, Herr Schmidt waited for opportunity to make his desired voyage to America. The decision was made suddenly, and on April 21 in 1847 the family left Germany from Hamburg. On the 24th of June, nearly a month later, the sail boat arrived at New Orleans where they boarded a steam boat for St. Louis. They arrived there three days later and then went on to Davenport, arriving there two weeks later, for the trip was very slow although no storms were encountered.
Herr Schmidt's first transaction was the purchase of 150 acres at the enormous price of $1.25 an acre. Once in America, Ludwig's life became filled with activity, a new kind of activity. A cabin had to be built before civilized living could begin. The main room of the cabin served as a kitchen, living room, and pantry. Two lean-tos were built on one side so that the roof of the entire building slanted toward the north. The fire place was in the center of the partition between the main room and the lean-tos, which served as bedrooms. Since Ludwig was only nine years old and the youngest of the family, his work toward the building of the cabin was probably light and consisted of filling in the cracks between the logs with mud. Summer nights in the cabin were weird. The door could be bolted, but the window had to be closed by an over-turned table to prevent the starved wolves entering.
Travel was unique indeed. The old 'schlitten' (sleigh) was merely a box set on runners and drawn by oxen. To make the ride a little less bumpy, a mattress was placed on the box. Oxen had a craving for water and a keen sense of smell for it. If the mattress with the whole family was not shaken off by the jarring of the sled, the sled, mattress, family and all would be dragged into the water for which the oxen had headed.
Ludwig's education still continued under his father as it had in Germany. Only one of the three r's, reading, had any appeal for him. He devoured every piece of printed matter that entered the house and borrowed a great deal of outside matter. The characteristic was long-lived. As the boys grew older, Herr Schmidt began to depend more on them to carry on the farm work. In 1865 the call for men reached as far as Iowa, and all the Schmidts were drafted. A loss of all his help meant a great deal to Herr Schmidt, so he hired two brothers, to young to be drafted and eager for adventure, for one thousand dollars each. This was not lack of patriotism, but a legal transaction.
Herr Schmidt purchased each son a 160-acre farm as that son reached a certain age. Ludwig had received his farm and now desired a bride. Girls were plentiful in Iowa, but Ludwig boarded a ship for Germany. The old home was gone, and his love for the old country had nearly died. His enthusiasm was increased by the spirit of patriotism that overwhelmed him. His heart's desire was found in a cousin, Dorothea Schuett, a lovely girl of small stature, brown wavy hair, bright eyes and a desire for adventure. Dorothea's parents were dead, and her older sisters and brothers were wary of this twenty-seven year old cousin whom they had not seen for a dozen years or more and who had come to them with stories of a wonderful land. Youth and love will win, however, and in June (1865) Ludwig was married to Dorothea, first by a justice of the peace that the marriage may be legal as Ludwig desired, and then by a minister that the marriage may also be sacred to please Dorothea's brothers and sisters.
When Ludwig returned to America, other than a bride he also took with him a piano. This must have been an outstanding piece of furniture in the rude log cabin. Ludwig realized how crude the cabin must seem, and desiring the very best for his bride he began work on a brick house. Clay was abundant and with a little neighborly assistance the new house was soon on its way toward completion. In this new haven of delight Ludwig and Dorothea were content to be alone in the evening to play the piano or read aloud to each other. They were not always alone, however. Their piano was an object of interest and visits to see and play the instrument often resulted in dancing parties. Ludwig was an artist on the floor and the dark mustached young farmer and his brown-haired bride must have made a delightful and popular pair.
Ludwig's love was not alone for his wife, however. His favorite pets were Dolly and Queen. Dolly was a typical trotter of the day, an admirable possession, and faithful to the harness. Dolly served her master for many years and had always received kind treatment in return, but even kind treatment was not to keep her young forever. Queen was an Irish setter, and Ludwig's closest companion on his hunting trips. Ludwig was a hunter, but probably hunting was not an art when prairie chickens were so thick and so tame that hunters had difficulty not to step on them. With his old friend, Charley Kahler, Ludwig often went on week hunting trips along the Wapsie River. You will doubt the writer's word—often three or four hunters returned with a wagon-load of wild ducks. His activities were not limited to duck shooting. Bowling, too, was a favorite pastime. Ludwig belonged to a club and a cup of his winning still remains in the family. Target and quail shooting were popular sports, and Ludwig was a strong promoter. At regular intervals large matches were held on hi farm or some other suitable place. During the day the wives of the contestants exchanged gossip, and in the evening all hands were joined in a "Circle Two-Step" to a fiddle or accordion.
As all men will, Ludwig became too old for the "schotsiche" or "Newport Quadrille". Hunting trips were also too strenuous and Ludwig stayed at home more often and found other ways of amusement. He played half days at a time with an old friend Jurgen Sindt. The game was not the chip kind but was played with several figures and far more difficult. It"s principles were such that it could be carried on through correspondence. Jurgen and Ludwig were both excellent players; in fact, they were "sharks" and it was necessary to play half days at a time before one or the other would be defeated.
Now father of nine children, three daughters and six sons, Ludwig realized the fact that he had been handicapped by lack of education and that his children should not suffer in the same way. All of them attended the district school. We scoff at it now, for its eight grades all taught by the same teacher, but children attending school were indeed fortunate.
Regardless of his lack of education, Ludwig was able to appreciate the higher arts and was especially fond of the theater. Since money was never lacking or even scarce, he went often and took the older members of his family. Although Ludwig was always generous and considerate, he commanded the highest respect and obedience from his children. They were never whipped; one look or word was enough. The children adored their father and mother as the parents adored each other. The children were not long to keep their father with them. He was attacked with Black Diptheria and succumbed to it a few days later. In his forty-six years he had seen a great deal of life, and had always lived well and honestly.
Editor's note: this history was found in the possessions of my paternal grandmother, Henrietta Schmidt Meier. We are unsure who wrote this article, but I believe it may have been written by one of her sisters or cousins, possibly for the 100th anniversary of the family's coming to America. A booklet with names and births and marriages was written by Albert W. Schmidt, a cousin.
Here is some more history on Ludwig's family:
His parents were: Johann Frederick Christian Schmidt, born 1800; married Margaretha Dorathea Kistenmacher, born 1803. Their children were: Carolina (b. 1824, d. 1829); William E. Schmidt, (b. 1827); Carl F. Schmidt, (b. 1829); August F. Schmidt. (b. 1833); Frederick T. Schmidt, (b. 1835); Ludwig H. Schmidt, (b. 1838); Julius A. Schmidt, (b. and d.. 1841).
The family did come to the USA in 1847 along with the C.W. Kistenmacher family. Passenger lists shows the family intended to come to Iowa as they did not list USA as their destination, but Iowa. The father was listed as a teacher, the oldest son (William) farmer, the second son (Charles) as a cabinetmaker, and the other boys were children. C. W. Kistenmacher was listed as a carpenter.
The family located in Scott County, and descendants of the Schmidt brothers populated Scott County and neighboring counties. Several of Ludwig's children were among the first to go to northwest Iowa and helped populate the town of Holstein, Iowa.
In 1947 and 1948 the Schmidt descendants gathered in Scott County and in Holstein to celebrate. (A photo at the Holstein Turner Hall appears in the Holstein Centennial Book on page 106). In 1997 a 150th Schmidt reunion was held at Blue Grass, Iowa.
Editor: Diane Meier Green


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