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Johann Smidt, 1856
This Smidt family line is descended from Johann Smidt (1773-1857), of
Bremen, Germany, though descendents have scattered worldwide. My
grandfather, Arnold Smidt, who was born in Bremen, emigrated to
the United States from Berlin in 1926 to seek his fortune and get settled
so that his fiance, Jutta GUMPERT, could join him, which she did in 1928.
His overseas journey was believed to have been sponsored by an uncle
The Smidt name originates in the Netherlands and, I'm told, is
the Dutch equivalent of "Smith." The vast majority of the information
provided here comes from a document titled "Smidt-Stiftung,"
printed by A. Guthe in Bremen in November 1930, a copy of which was owned
by my grandfather and later provided to his children. Where the
original document resides and how many there are elsewhere is not known.
Copied on 19 11"x17" sheets of paper, the original document
appears to measure 13" x 9 3/4". I owe many thanks to
Holly Shupe and to Stefan Keller for their help in deciphering some of
the German terminologies. Special thanks to Stefan Keller for his
generosity of time and translations, and for introducing me to the remarkable
information that has been recorded about Johann Smidt and his venerable
place in history. And special thanks, too, to Don Watson for his generous
translation of the text of the Smidt-Stiftung.
From Stefan Keller
in a Nov. 23, 2005 e-mail: "It is very hard to under-estimate the impact
that Johann Smidt had for Bremen and the whole region. This is the
Johann Smidt that married Wilhelmine Rohde. ... He was a brilliant pupil,
studied at the university of Jena and quickly became acquainted with some
of the best brains of his time. Despite his young age, he became
a senator of Bremen and worked for Bremen in diplomatic affairs. This
included a times as an envoy in Paris at the court of Napoleon, in the
allied headquarter during the Napoleonic wars and at the Vienna congress
afterwards. He was known by many in the diplomatic world and earned
great respect. He also founded Bremerhaven (which allowed Bremen
to use his own port) - and is finally responsible that Bremen and Hamburg
retained their independent (dwarf) state status."
A number of books and other materials have been published detailing the
life and considerable accomplishments of Johann Smidt. Most of them
are in German. To see some of the number and variety of books available,
go to http://www.zvab.com
and type Bürgermeister Johann Smidt in the search field. Others
A short synopsis of his life (German): http://www.stadtbibliothek-bremerhaven.de/Smidt/smidt.html.
A brief history of Bremerhaven and Johann Smidt, with photo (German,
translated by Google): http://gauss.suub.uni-bremen.de/html/mm/bhv/z_1831p.htm.
Another, more interesting history of Bremerhaven and Johann Smidt's considerable role, with photos (German, translated by Google): http://www.radiobremen.de/magazin/geschichte/bremerhaven/hafengeschichte/historie.html.
This appears to be summary of the Smidt famiy holdings (German, translated by Google): http://www2.bremen.de/info/staatsarchiv/bestand/ubersich/sammlung/t720.htm.
Brief history of Bremen with mention of Johann Smidt (English): http://www.fortwaynemaennerchor.us/bremen.html.
An even more brief history of Bremen with mention of Johann Smidt (English):
The following link is to a genealogical study of Christian Abraham Heineken
(1752-1818), Mayor of Bremen, by Heinrich von Spreckelsen in 1985. Although
not directly related to Johann Smidt, it contains references to numerous
families and family lines that we recognize from the Smidt-Stiftung
document, and provides valuable context of the life and times of Johann
Smidt (English): http://www.hennekes.com/caheineken.htm.
The term Stiftung
roughly translates to a non-profit or charitable foundation, and the Smidt
Foundation is a charitable foundation associated with the Smidt family.
I was surprised to learn that it is still in existance, though I
have not yet made an effort to contact them. According to information
I found on a German Web site listing this and a wide range of other Stiftungs,
the primary purposes of the Smidt-Stiftung are: a) the promotion of the
training of young persons b) the support of needy descendants of the family,
and c) promotion of the reputation of the family Smidt.
z. H. Herrn
Johann G. Smidt
c/o Firma J.G. Schütte & Co.
Tel. (0421) 3042259
The Indiana Uncle
For many years, I
had heard that it was an uncle in South Bend, Indiana that helped Arnold
come to the United States and wondered who this uncle in Indiana could
possibly be. Was it a sibling of his father or his mother?
In July 2006, the mystery was solved when I uncovered the letter
written by Adolph VIETOR in 1926, offering to sponsor his grand-nephew
Arnold Smidt in New York.
There is great risk
in reading too much into isolated pieces of information. Imagine
trying to figure out what an elephant looks like with only a toe, an ear,
or just the snout as clues. The further we go back in to time,
limited available records--if we're lucky to find any at all--provide
only a momentary glimpse into a situation, and often subject to the interpretation
or limitations of the person recording it.
I have tried to be diligent in recording the sources of my information
so that it can be judged by myself and others as to its reliability.
Just because a record exists does not mean it was recorded accurately,
whether by the scribe or the original provider. Yet they provide
us with clues that could help verify our assumptions or point us in new
Photos help remind
us that this is about more than facts and statistics; these were real
people of flesh, bone, and blood. They experienced the adventures
of youth, the trials and tribulations of raising a family, the joys of
traditions, the sorrows of loss, and the toils of the day-to-day. Some
died young; others lived long, fruitful lives. Posting photos to
the Web is a way to share them with others as well as preserve them in
the event the original is later lost.
Any information, corrections,
clippings, suggestions, and/or photos offered that will help weave the
fabric and reveal the texture of the SMIDT family's history will be greatly
appreciated. All photos or other original documents will be handled
with great care, copied, and promptly returned to their owner, unless
instructed otherwise. While I am eager for ANY information, including
stories and oral histories, that will help tell our story, I also want
to be respectful of people's privacy and to use discretion in matters
that may be sensitive. With the exception of references contained
in obituaries, information about living people will not be posted to this
This document is only as complete and accurate as the information available
to me up to this moment. No doubt it will continue to evolve over
time, as it should.
Information to share? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Data for Johann Smidt
Descendant Register Report for Johann Smidt
Outline for Johann Smidt
Data for Arnold Smidt
Descendant Register Report for Arnold Smidt
Outline for Arnold Smidt
Includes notices for GUMPERT.
Smidt - Stiftung
Tap on cover to peruse
German Genealogy Resources
New York State Genealogy
z. H. Herrn
Johann G. Smidt
c/o Firma J.G. Schütte & Co.
Tel. (0421) 3042259
- The Alta Vista
translator allows you to translate short passages of text or entire
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April 28, 2008