Tag Archives: Wilhelm Schmidt

Wilhelm Schmidt – Military Passport

One of the most valuable documents I have found in terms of family history is owned by Norma Wendorf Bandock, grand-daughter of William “Billy” Schmidt (1899 – 1990).  Fortunately for my family, Norma ended up with a lot of “Uncle Billy’s” documents and photographs, and I’ve never been as overwhelmed as I was the evening I spent digitizing the goldmine that she brought for me to see.  Among the treasures, the document that stood out the most was a little booklet that looked like a modern passport.  It said “Karl Ernst Wilhelm Schmidt, 1884” on it.

It was, as it turns out, the Prussian Army military passport for my great-great grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt, and was the first document from the “old world” that I had come across at that point.  It remains among a very small number of such documents that tell the story of our family before they came to the United States.

The passport is, of course, in German, and it’s also lengthy.  I paid a historic document expert a tidy sum to translate the entire thing.  Most of it consists of rules and regulations about military service in general, and is not specific to Wilhelm, so I’m not going to put it all on here.  Instead, I’ll focus on the important parts.

Wilhelm Schmidt Military Passport – Page 1


Spare Reserve Passport I of the Spare Reservist  Name: Karl Ernst Wilhelm Schmidt  Service Year: 1884  No. 247 Berlin Federal Print Works Engineers  The journeyman carpenter Karl Ernst Wilhelm Schmidt, born August 8,1862 at Weissenfenn, District Wirsitz, is herewith, because of limited military fitness, assigned to the Spare Reserve First Class as Pioneer [Engineer] and is subject to the draft for peace exercises. He has to follow the call to the first exercise on August 23, 1884, is standing under control of the Territorial Reserve Authorities until the end of his 31st year of life and then transfers to the Army Reserve, without the necessity of a special order.
1) By receiving this passport, owner enters the control of the 2nd Territorial Reserve Company of the Territorial Reserve District Command Braunschweig II. He is obliged to report to the Territorial Reserve District Sergeant in Wolfenbüttel within 8 days.

So he is ordered to report for duty in Wolfenbüttel (in Germany proper).  It’s likely he was working in and around that area as a journeyman carpenter at the time.  It gives his place of birth as “Weissenfenn, Wirsitz”.  In actuality Weißfenn is in the Friedberg district of Posen, and is very near the town of Modderpfuhl where his father or grandfather was born.  The page also mentions his trade as “journeyman carpenter”, which was a fairly specific thing back in Prussia.  Read more about it here if you wish, but it’s rather fascinating and romantic.

The phrase “because of limited military fitness” is interesting to me.  Wilhelm’s son Edwin Schmidt noted on his World War I draft card that he might be excused from military service because he had “broken arches in feet”.  Perhaps it ran in the family?

Page 5


18. At the beginning of general mobilization, any Spare Reservist living in foreign countries, immediately have to return to the homeland, unless they have been specifically exempted from this obligation. Their return has to be reported immediately to the District Sergeant under whose control they are, or to the one of the nearest Territorial Reserve unit. 19. This passport serves the bearer as identification for all military and civil authorities. Whoever loses it has at once to request a duplicate, verbally or in writing, from the District Sergeant and has to pay 50 Pfennige (pennies) for it. Wolfenbuettel the 21st of May 1884  The Upper Spare Commission in the District of the 40th Infantry Brigade  Dukedom Braunschweig The Military Chairman The Civil Chairman  Johs. Milger  A. Galmann  Major General  District Director  Commanding Authority which makes entries District Headquarters Braunschweig II Date: 08/23/84 Stamp

Here we just see the date stamps and the responsible parties.  We see he is still near Wolfenbüttel, Germany about 21 May 1884.

There are other pages I’m omitting which state (in part):

Stricken from category of exercise-obligated Spare Reservist and entered into the category of the non-exercise obligated Spare Reservist 1st Class. During peace time the Spare Reservists First Class do not need a military permit to immigrate, however, they are obligated to inform the District Sergeant of their pending immigration. Anyone dodging this responsibility will be fined up to 150 Marks or be penalized with jail.  Owner transfers to Spare part Reserve II class on October 1, 1889.

Note that, interestingly, it says you can immigrate to another country in times of peace as long as you notify the District Sergeant of the immigration!  (Wow!)  This would be important later.

Then we find the real gold of this document.  Places and dates that Wilhelm lived in Prussia:

Pages 10-11.


Page 10  Reports and Furloughs 
Reported for Ahlum [a town near Wolfenbüttel, Germany] Wolfenbuettel, May 27, 84  Hilkener, District Sergeant 
Move to Salzdahlum reported [a nearby town] Wolfenbuettel, June 8, 84  Hilkener, District Sergeant
Reported departure to Gornitz  [Gornitz is back in Posen, and was his hometown at that point], Wolfenbüttel, November 28, 84 Hilkener, District Sergeant
Reported for Gornitz arrival Czarnikau, December 8, 84 Bethke, District Sergeant

So we see that he has been working in Germany, but moves back to Gornitz (in Kreis Czarnikau, Posen) where his family had been living since at least 1875.  This must mean that his period as a journeyman carpenter is over, because you were not allowed near your hometown until you were finished with your journey.  The next entry was the most remarkable to me:

Pages 12, 13.


Orderly notification of departure to America. Czarnikau, May 5, 85 Bethke, District Sergeant

So Wilhelm was given permission to immigrate to the US in May of 1885.  Remarkable!  My impression was that you were in the military for a very long time (up to and including life in times of war).  Instead, he was given permission to leave.

He came to the US that summer.  It’s not clear if (like August Strehlow), he was expected to return to Prussia at some point and he did not.  That part is unclear.

FHC Records

I spent a few hours at the Madison Family History Center (this is a branch of the Mormon Church) going through some films I had ordered.  Just noting here that I did that.  The two films I had ordered were:

Film: 2027350
Methodist Church of Canada. South Stukely Circuit (Québec)

This was ordered before I realized that these records are already online.  I had already found everything I needed from South Stukely (Robert Erwin Clifford’s family records).

Film: 245492
Kirchenbuch – Evangelische Kirche Weißenhöhe (Kr. Wirsitz)

I had hoped to find records from Wilhelm Schmidt’s family since Weissenhöhe is very near where he was born and might have actually been the town in which he was born.  I only found one record I would consider a “possible” hit.  It’s puzzling and I still have to have someone who speaks German take a look at it for me.  I’ll post about that separately.  There were many “Schmidts” in the records, but since it’s a name about as common as “Smith” here, that was not surprising.  Nobody that I could identify as being from my family definitively was found.

Sisters of Wilhelm Schmidt

My 2nd great-grandfather, Carl Ernst Wilhelm “William” Schmidt (1862-1925), or as my mother and I call him, Wilhelm, sponsored the immigration of his mother (Wilhelmine Winkelmann,  1836-1914) and his five sisters to the US about 1892.  They did not come all at the same time.  Some came together and other came separately.  They left their home in Gornitz, Posen, Prussia and traveled to the port of Bremen, Germany.  From there they traveled by steamship to New York harbor, and from there by train to Rothschild, Wisconsin.

When the family was reunited, they went to a photo studio in Wausau, Wisconsin and posed for a photograph that is one of my favorites out of all the historic photos I have in my archives.

Wilhhelm Schmidt with his mother and five sisters in 1893.

This is just a brief bio for each of the sisters.  Hopefully I’ll be able to write detailed biographies for each of them, but until then here are some of the more important facts:

Alvine “Alvina” Schmidt (1865 – 1942)

  • Born in Karolina, Posen, Prussia on 10 Nov 1865.
  • Came to the US aboard the “Ems” with her mother, sister Bertha, and nephew Wilhelm Karl in July, 1892.
  • Family called her “Vena”.
  • Lived in Minocqua, Wisconsin around 1900 working as a servant in the home of Charles Hoofer, a printer.
  • Married Wilhelm Mueller in Wausau, WI  9 Aug 1902
  • Lived in Berlin, WI and Schofield, WI.
  • Had at least one son, Paul W. Mueller (1903-1970).
  • Was also the mother of Ernest Little (1901-1951), who was raised by Peter Little and her sister Lena Schmidt Little.  She and Peter had an affair which resulted in the pregnancy.
  • Alvina died in Schofield, Wisconsin on 7 Jul 1942 of a coronary embolism at the age of 76.
  • Has at least two living descendants as of 2013.

Alvine “Vena” Schmidt

Amelie Franziska”Amelia” Schmidt (1869 – 1932)

  • Born in Karolina, Posen, Prussia on 18 Jan 1869.
  • Married Christian Karl 28 Mar 1891 in Stieglitz, Kreis Czarnikau, Posen, Prussia.  She was six months pregnant.
  • Her twin boys, Gustav Albert and Wilhelm Friedrich were born in the town of Stieglitz on 20 Jun 1891.
  • Came to the US aboard the “Aller” with her husband and one of the twins, arriving in New York City on 19 Apr 1892..
  • Lived in Rothschild, and Wausau, Wisconsin.
  • They had six girls and four boys.
  • Died of a ruptured appendix in Wausau, Wisconsin on 14 Jul 1932.
  • Grandson Robert Karl lives in Rothschild, Wisconsin.  I have identified several other living descendants.
Amelia Schmidt

Amelia Schmidt

Antonie “Antonia” Schmidt (1872 – 1951)

  • Antonie was born in Karolina, Posen, Prussia on 31 Aug 1872.
  • She came to the US in 1892.  So far it’s not known what ship she took to come here.
  • Family called her “Tonie”.
  • She married Theodore Beste 24 Dec 1896 in Wausau, Wisconsin.
  • He was a widower who had seven children, and Antonia had to take care of them all.
  • Theodore was 24 years older than Antonie.
  • Antonia and Theodore had a daughter, Ruth J. Beste who was born 1910.
  • Antonia lived in various places around Marathon County, then moved to San Mateo, California about 1944.
  • Died on 10 Dec 1951 in San Mateo from pancreatic cancer.
  • Daughter Ruth had two children, both of whom are alive as of 2013.
Antonia Schmidt & Theodore Beste, c1900.

Antonia Schmidt & Theodore Beste, c1900.

Auguste Pauline “Lena” Schmidt (1875 – 1953)

  • Born in Gornitz, Posen, Prussia on 25 Nov 1875.
  • Came to the US in 1892.
  • Married Peter Blanchard Little in Vilas County, Wisconsin, 11 Apr 1896.  He was French Canadian.  Pauline was six months pregnant.
  • Peter worked as a saloon-keeper, barber, and ran a confection store and soda shop.
  • Lived in Minocqua, Wisconsin until 1932, then spent the rest of her life in Schofield and Rothschild, Wisconsin.
  • Husband Peter died 19 Jun 1933.
  • Had a daughter Jennie, who died in infancy.
  • Raised Irving “Ernest” Little, who was the son of her sister Lena and her husband Peter.
  • Ernest had a daughter, Karen Little (b 1937).
  • Karen married Lloyd M Schultz and lived in Schofield until 1994 when she moved to Virginia.
  • Lena died 7 Sept 1953 in Wausau, Wisconsin and is buried with Peter and daughter Jennie in Minocqua, Wisconsin.
  • There are four descendants of her line through her grand-daughter Karen.
Lena Schmidt

Lena Schmidt

Auguste Bertha Schmidt (1880-1946)

  • Born in Gornitz, Posen, Prussia on 11 Jan 1880.
  • Came to the US aboard the “Ems” with her mother, sister Alvine, and nephew Wilhelm Karl, arriving in New York City on 25 Jul 1892.
  • Married Joseph Schneider in Marathon County, Wisconsin, 10 May 1898.  Bertha was 4 months pregnant.
  • Lived in Schofield, Wisconsin until 1930.
  • Had four boys: John, Ernest, Joseph, and Harvey.
  • Died 29 Mar 1946 in Wausau, Wisconsin at the age of 66 from a heart attack.
  • I am in touch with one of her great-grand-daughters.
Bertha Schmidt & Joseph Schneider in 1924.

Bertha Schmidt & Joseph Schneider in 1924.

Zierke Origins

On May 15th, 1865 Friedrich Zierke Sr., his wife Dorothea and their children Anna Rosina and Friedrich Zierke Jr. boarded the ship “Neckar” in Hamburg and set sail for America.  The trip lasted a full month – four long weeks packed onboard a ship with 411 passengers; 11 Danes, 120 Swedes and 280 Germans (per the notation by the Captain).  The ship sailed to Québec, Canada, arriving on June 24th, 1865 where the four weary Zierkes finally set foot on the American continent.  One of the things that made their voyage remarkable was that Friedrich the elder was 59 years old.  His wife Dorothea was 50.  Friedrich the younger and Anna Rosina were 28 and 20, respectively.  59 and 50 years old are fairly advanced ages to decide to leave everything and everyone you know behind to start over in America.  It is interesting to me that they decided to do it and begs the question of “Why?”.

After their arrival in Quebec, we have no record of what happened to Friedrich Sr., nor his wife Dorothea, until 1900 when Dorothea shows up in Harrisville, Wisconsin, widowed and living alone for the last year of her life before dying in 1901.  If we could find an obituary it might tell us where she was born and/or where she and Fred went after they arrived in the US, but I’m not aware of local Marquette County papers which might have carried such an obituary.

Her death record says that Dorothea’s father’s name was “Hardow”, that she was born 7 July 1814, and died on 2 Mar 1901 at the age of 86 in Harris, Wisconsin.  There is a good chance her name was actually Hadow.  There is a Hadow family that came from Wilhelmshöhe, Kreis Kolmar, Posen, Prussia and also settled in Harris.  She was buried in a “private cemetery”, likely the Putzbach Cemetery which is within walking distance of the Zierke farm in Harris.

According to parish records, Friederich Jr’s wife, Anna Wilhelmine “Minnie” Schulz was born, baptized, and confirmed in the town of Podstolitz in Kreis Kolmar, Posen, Prussia, as was her brother Martin Schulz.  This town is only a couple of miles away from Siebenschlößchen, where another family of Zierkes came from who later settled in Princeton, Wisconsin near Harris.

Friedrich and Wilhelmine Zierke

Friedrich Zierke Jr. was born in 1835.  Friedrich Schmidt was born in 1832.  The Schmidts were from Posen, Prussia.  It is possible that the Schmidts and the Zierkes knew each other in Prussia because when Wilhelm Schmidt immigrated from Posen to America in 1885 he went to Marquette County in Wisconsin where he met and married Ottelia Zierke.  It could be that he went there knowing there would be people from home.  If that was the reason, it would be evidence that the Zierkes may have been from Posen or somewhere reasonably near it.

The strongest piece of evidence we have at this point is the German passenger list for the Zierke family’s trip from Hamburg to New York [Hamburg Passenger Lists ->1860-1869 > Direkt Band 019 (7 Jan 1865 – 23 Dez 1865) > p143].  

There’s a town listed there, and Klaus Kolb, and expert on historical German documents said this about it:

“I believe I am deciphering the word Jastrowie. In an atlas I found a village in today’s Poland near the convergence of the rivers Gwda and Pitawa. the location is about 138 km NNW of Poznan (Posen) 120 km west of Bydgoscz and 172 km ENE of Szczecin (Stettin).   However, Jastrowie is today’s polish name. Like other villages and towns in the area it could have had a German or germanized name at the time. It is for this reason that I am not absolutely sure this being the village mentioned in the document.”

The modern town of Jastrowie in Poland is a town that used to be called “Jastrow” by the Germans.   It actually belonged to the county Deutsch Krone, administrative district Marienwerder in the Prussian province of West Prussia at that time.   Jastrowie is located about 12 miles North of the border of the Province of Posen.  “Schneidemühl” (Polish name Pila, south of Jastrow) was the border town.  

To me it makes sense that the locals would use the Polish name for the town (hence “Jastrowie” on the passenger list rather than the German name “Jastrow”).  That part of Prussia changed hands several times between Poland and Germany, so the locals probably used the local, Polish name.

Another translation of the document is “Jablonowo”, another Polish name.

Wilhelm Schmidt, Emil and Otto Prielipp

Otto Prielipp was a German/Prussian immigrant who came to the US in 1922.  In 1923, my great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt paid $164.98 for Otto’s brother Emil Prielipp come to the US from Germany/Prussia.  [Gornitz was in the Prussian Province of Posen, but I believe technically after WWI it was considered Germany.]  Both men worked in the paper mill with my great-grandfather Edwin Schmidt, and both lived on Grand Avenue in Rothschild, Wisconsin(as the Schmidt family did).  Gloria and Kay Johnson were friends with the Prielipp daughters.  It’s not clear if Wilhelm also paid for Otto to come to the US.

Ticket for Emil Prielipp to the US from Gornitz, Prussia.

On the passenger record for Emil Prielipp it gives his home town as “Gornitz, Ashebude, Germany”.  Gornitz is the town where Wilhelm was living from November, 1884 until he came to the US in the second half of 1885.  “Ashebude” (actually Ascherbude) is a small town near Gornitz.  Emil sailed aboard the “Albert Ballin” from Hamburg, Germany on 8 Nov 1923, arriving in New York harbor on 18 November.  His destination was listed as “Rothschild, Wisconsin”, and his father was listed as Hermann Prielipp, and his trade as “blacksmith”.

Emil Prielipp passenger list, 1923

Emil’s brother Otto left Gornitz in 1922 on board the “SS Mount Carroll” which sailed from Hamburg, Germany on 29 Jun 1922 and arrived in New York on 11 Jul 1922.  Otto was listed as a “Farm Laborer”, father Hermann Prielipp of Gornitz, and with a destination of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Otto Prielipp Passenger List, 1922

Otto Prielipp passenger list, 1922

I’ve asked Gloria to try to get me in contact with Otto’s daughters.  My hope is that they know something about the relationship between their father/uncle and Wilhelm Schmidt, and perhaps even have some knowledge (even if it’s just family stories) about Gornitz.

UPDATE:  From further records discovered by Doris Winkelmann Sonntag and Marlena Krzemińska, we now suspect that Emil Prielipp was the grandson of Hannah Auguste Friedericke “Friedericke” Winkelmann, who was the sister to my 3x great-grandmother Wilhelmine Winkelmann. So Wilhelm Schmidt may have been paying for the passage of his first cousin, once removed. It seems probable that Emil’s father Hermann was Wilhelm’s first cousin, and may have written to Wilhelm to ask for help getting his two sons to the US.