Michael Schmitt is one of the veterans of the Civil war who, upon southern battlefields, loyally defended the old flag and the cause it represented, and to-day he is a loyal citizen who does what he can to promote the welfare of the community and aid in its substantial progress and improvement.
A native of Illinois, he was born in Madison county April 9, 1845, his parents being John and Margaret Schmitt. They were natives of Bavaria, born on the Rhine in Germany. The father was a member of a very prominent and influential family of that country and received exceptional educational privileges. Emigrating to America, he located in a German settlement in Illinois, purchasing forty acres of land, on which he remained until the spring of 1855. He then came to Kansas, making the journey with an ox team. He located in Brown county, where he purchased a squatter's claim on Walnut creek of one hundred and sixty acres. He also located another claim of one hundred and sixty acres in the name of a mute brother, who had accompanied him from the old country. Thus he became the owner of three hundred and twenty acres and when the land came into market he purchased it from the government. The tract he transformed into a fine farm, making permanent improvements thereon. When he came to the county there were but few permanent settlers. The land along the creeks had been claimed by squatters, who had thus taken possession expecting to sell it to permanent settlers as the country became more thickly settled. Mr. Schmitt's claim had some good timber upon it and a rude squatter's cabin, which was built near the creek. He removed this to another part of the farm, reconstructed it, and occupied it until he could replace it with a better residence. In the course of time he had a large and valuable farm tinder cultivation, carrying on his work on a more extensive scale than any other pioneer of that early day. He also engaged in stock raising, feeding his farm products to his horses, cattle and hogs. He made a specialty of the raising of corn, and when the drouth of 1860 came he was better prepared to meet it than most of the settlers of the neighborhood; he and his family, therefore, did not want for fool. His home was near Padonia and the Indian reserve and there were many red men in the neighborhood, but they showed a friendly disposition and occasioned no trouble. Many hardships and trials were to be endured by the settlers, such as are incident to pioneer life. They had to go long distances to mill and their supplies were purchased at Iowa Point. Game, including deer and turkey, was quite plentiful and furnished many a meal for the settlers. As the years passed and the country became more thickly settled, all the comforts and conveniences of the older east were introduced, and the Schmitt farm became one of the best in the neighborhood. Mr. Schmitt was a bright-minded, intelligent man, who had been educated for the priesthood, but, never entering the church, he devoted his attention to other work. He reared his family in that faith, but later they all became Protestants. In an early day he contributed five hundred dollars toward the building of the Catholic church at Rulo, and gave very generously of his means toward promoting the work of the organization. In politics he was originally a Democrat. but afterward became a Whig, and on the organization of the Republican party he joined its ranks. About 1867 he sold his farm and began merchandising in Padonia, carrying on a general store. After a few years he removed his stock to Rulo, Nebraska, where he carried on business for several years, when he sold out and returned to Padonia. There he again engaged in merchandising for some time, but at length disposed of his stock at auction and returned to his farm where he spent his remaining days. He was a man of many virtues. charitable to the needy, kind to all, and in his business dealings ever honorable and straightforward. His standard of integrity and morality was very high and he thus won the admiration, confidence and respect of the entire community.
His first wife died during the early boyhood of her son, Michael, and the history of her family is not known. By their marriage there were six children:
Valentine; John, a wealthy resident of Illinois; Henry, who served in the Second Nebraska Cavalry and died on his farm in Kansas; Mary, wife of J. Gider; Adam, who served in the war of the Rebellion and is a prominent farmer of Brown county; and Michael, of this review. After the death of his first wife the father married Margaret Okerson, who, by a former marriage, had three children, who were reared by Mr. Schmitt and went by his name. They were William; Isaac, who served in the Civil war and died after his return home; and Rosa, wife of J. Smith. By his second marriage Mr. Schmitt had four children: George; Fred, a resident of Salem, Nebraska; Jacob, a farmer of Brown county, and Lewis, of Salem, Nebraska. After the death of his second wife the father married Mrs. Ordway, who had children by her first marriage, and to them was born a son, Charles, who was a stenographer, and while in charge of an office was shot and killed by robbers. The next wife of John Schmitt was Fanny Williams and they had three children, one of whom died in childood. The others were Joseph, of Nebraska, and Mrs. Anna Nicodemus.
Michael Schmitt was a lad of twelve years when, with his father, he came to Kansas. He aided in the arduous task of developing and improving new land and to his father gave the benefit of his services until 1862, when he responded to the country's call for troops, enlisting for nine months. He was sent on the Dakota expedition against the Indians and served for about a year, after which he received an honorable discharge. Later he re-enlisted in the Seventh Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, which was attached to the Army of the Tennessee, and with that command he saw some hard service, continuing at the front until the close of the War. He never received a furlough and during the greater part of that time was in active duty, serving as scout and participating in some important battles. At the close of the war he was sent to Fort Leavenworth, thence to Fort Kearny and after a short time returned to Leavenworth, where he received an honorable discharge and was paid off. The country no longer needing his services, Mr. Schmitt returned home and resumed farming. In 1867 he was married and rented a farm, which he operated until able to purchase a tract of land. He then continued upon his own farm until 1896, carrying on the cultivation of grain and the raising of stock. In the year mentioned he retired to private life, taking up his abode in Padonia. The lady whom he wedded, in 1867, was Miss Elizabeth Cassidy, who was born in east Tennessee and was a daughter of Henry and Sarah (Nelson) Cassidy, both of whom were natives of that state. The paternal grandfather was Adam Cassidy, a farmer, and Henry Cassidy followed the same pursuit. The hatter was killed while serving in the Confederate army in Georgia. His wife also died in Georgia. Adam Cassidy fled from his home during the war, took up his abode in Indiana, later removed to Missouri, and subsequently went to Oregon. He was a consistent Methiodist in religious faith. His chihdren were:
William, George, Robert, Henry, father of Mrs. Schmitt, Abarilla, Caroline and Matthew. Mrs. Schmitt was left an orphan in early life and lived with her grandfather, Adam Cassidy, accompanying him on his various removals. She removed from Missouri to Kansas with the family of Mr. Massa and located near Fairview, where she made the acquaintance of Mr. Schmitt, whom she married. Their children are: Adam, who is farming the old homestead; Margaret, wife of H. Sherrer; Thomas, a farmer; Mattie, wife of J. Combs; Henry, a farmer; Mrs. Elizabeth Boyce; and Eva, Lucy and James, at home. Mrs. Schmitt is a member of the Methodist church and Mr. Schmitt belongs to the Grand Army Post of Hiawatha. For forty-five years he has been a resident of Brown county and has, therefore, witnessed its entire growth and development, having come to northeastern Kansas when Indians still lived in the neighborhood, when the wild land was still in its primitive condition and the work of progress and civilization seemed scarcely begun. His life has been one of industry and enterprise, and his possessions to-day stand as monuments to his thrift and capable management.
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