The Schmidt Sisters Revisited

As I have written about previously, my 2nd great grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt (1862-1925) brought his mother and five sisters from Posen, Prussia to live in Marathon County, Wisconsin.  Until today, I assumed that all five of the Schmidt sisters arrived in the US about 1892 or 1893, got married, and went about their lives.  Some of the sisters got married (thus changing their names) and they and their children stayed very close to my relatives in Rothschild, Wisconsin.  I have often lamented to my mother that, for example, Amelie Schmidt married Christian Karl and they settled down only a few blocks away from my family in Rothschild with their 10 kids.  I’d never heard about “other Schmidts”, so I assumed that none of my family knew about the 10 cousins right down the street from them.

Then tonight I was scanning documents and happened to open an envelope that my cousin Norma Wendorf Bandock had given me.  Inside are a few items that belonged to my great-grandfather Edwin Schmidt (1888 – 1972).  One of those items was a beautiful postcard sent on 14 July 1918 from Camp Hancock in Augusta Georgia.  It’s a beautiful, color postcard/envelope containing many photographs of camp life during WWI.

What shocked me was what I saw when I turned it over and looked at the back of the envelope:

It had been sent from William Frederick Karl (1891 – 1960), Edwin’s cousin… son of Wilhelm’s sister Amelie Schmidt (1869-1932), who had married Christian Karl.  Amelie was one of the five sisters that came to the US from Posen Prussia.  So, as opposed to my assumption, the Schmidt family did indeed interact with the Karl family and the two families knew each other.  I decided to do some digging into William F. Karl, and one of the first things I noticed was this from the 1910 census of Weston, Wisconsin:

1910 Census for Weston, Wisconsin

The first thing I noticed is that in addition to Christ and Amelia being born in Germany… so were both the boys.  You also notice they are the same age, and that all four of them had immigrated from Prussia together.  In fact, it turns out the two boys were twins.  Both born on 20 June, 1891.  The WWI Draft Cards both sons filled out shows that they were both born in “Posen, Germany” and both were  paper makers at the Marathon Paper Mill at that point.

The 1930 Census for Los Angeles, California shows that William immigrated in 1893 (as did his mother and father) and that he is from “Posen, Germany”:

1930 Census for Los Angeles, CA District 6.

So rather than coming to the US with her sisters and finding a husband, Amelia Schmidt was married to Christian Karl (in 1891 or 1892, per the various years given on the census reports) in Prussia.  Based on the birth dates of the twins, I’m guessing very early in 1891.  And then the two parents grabbed their one- or two-year-old twin boys and got on a boat to come to the US as a family.

This gives us two more Schmidts who were immigrants to this country.  Two that we didn’t know about previously.  William and his twin brother Gustav both moved to Los Angeles by 1930, and both of them died in that city, William in 1960 and Gustav in 1975.  Gustav had at least one son, Lloyd A. Karl.  William had at least one daughter, Doreen L. Karl.  I’m following up with both of them to see if we can locate any living relatives.


About cthomas1967

Seeking to bring my ancestors out of the shadows of history and into the light. I have always been interested in history, and at a few different times I tried to do a family tree, but wasn't able to do it with the technology that was available then. On a business trip I visited the World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO and it was a very impressive establishment. While I was there I remember thinking, "Didn't my great-grandfather father fight in World War I? And wasn't his brother killed alongside him in some famous battle? I wonder if I can find out where he died." That's what started it all. View all posts by cthomas1967

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