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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Jennes De Smidt

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 456 - 458

Jennes De Smidt, of the town of Greenbush, Sheboygan County, belongs to one of the pioneer families that claim Holland as their place of nativity. He is a son of Abraham and Lucy De Smidt, the latter being the second wife of his father. A large family of children was born to Abraham De Smidt. Those by the first marriage were: Mary, who still lives in Holland; Hannah and Mena, who reside in the State of New York; Abraham, who is in Michigan; and Cornelius, of Cedar Grove, Wis. By his second marriage there were: Francina, wife of Manus Ketman, who lives in Iowa; Adrian, who died in Sheboygan; Peter, who is a resident of Iowa; Jennes; Isaac; William, of Wilson, Sheboygan County; Sarah, who died on Lake Michigan while the family were making the passage of the Great Lakes, on their way to Wisconsin; Jane, who lives in Sheboygan; and Jacobus, the only one of the family born in this country, who is living here. In the year 1847, the family emigrated from Holland to the United States, coming direct to Sheboygan County, and settling on a new farm in the town of Holland. There the father spent his remaining years, but the mother, who was the second wife, was much younger than her husband and survived him a number of years, spending her declining days with her daughter in Sheboygan, where she died.

Jennes De Smidt was but a lad when the family settled in Holland Township, and he remained on the homestead farm until he had reached his twenty-first year. He then resolved to start out in the world for himself. However, he had no money with which to pay his expenses to Michigan, whither he contemplated going. He left home with but five cents in his pocket, but was fortunate enough to borrow of a comrade who accompanied him the money necessary to pay the expenses of the journey. In Michigan he engaged in farm work by the month for a period of fourteen months.

About this time the War of the Rebellion burst upon the country, and Mr. De Smidt resolved to enter the army. Accordingly, he enlisted in the town of Richmond, Kalamazoo County, on the 7th of September, 1861, becoming a member of Company F, Eighth Michigan Infantry. On the 8th of September, 1862, he was made Corporal of his company, and afterward re-enlisting on the 29th of December, 1863, he was made Sergeant, in which capacity he served until the close of the war. He was discharged on the 30th of July, 1865, after serving nearly four years, having been on active duty during nearly all that long period of time, taking part in many battles and campaigns. His regiment was attached to the Ninth Army Corps, and participated in Burnside's expedition from Washington to South Carolina, in which there was much severe fighting. Our subject participated in the fighting on James Island, and in the capture of the fort and succeeding the Union forces lost heavily. Both of the Lieutenants of his company were killed on that occasion, and the greater part of the men were either killed or wounded. With his regiment, Mr. De Smidt took part in Gen. Pope's campaign in Virginia in 1862, participating in the second battle of Bull Run. He was also at the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Chantilly. Under Burnside he took part in Gen. Grant's Petersburgh campaign, and was close to Appomattox when Gen. Lee surrendered. Mr. De Smidt was never seriously wounded by the bullets of the enemy, though he had many narrow escapes. His health was much broken by the hardships of a soldier's life, and he has never recovered his former health.

Soon after his return from the army he went to the State of New York, where he remained about a year, and then settled on a farm in the town of Holland. Several years later he sold his farm and engaged in mercantile business at Sheboygan, in company with his brother Jacobus. After two or three years' experience as a merchant, Mr. De Smidt disposed of his interest in the store and again embarked in farming, purchasing a farm on South Prairie, in Greenbush. A few months thereafter he bought and settled on his present farm.

Mr. De Smidt was married in June, 1867, to Miss Elizabeth Clarbout, a native of the town of Holland, and the daughter of Isaac Clarbout, a pioneer of that township. Of this marriage eleven children were born, eight sons and three daughters, all of whom are living except Abraham, who died in infancy. They are as follows: Lucy A., the eldest, who is the wife of W. Bleakenk, of South Dakota; Isaac J., who married Katie Webb, and resides in the town of Greenbush; Abraham A., the second bearing that name; Sylvester, Adrian J., Minnie G., Frances, Edwin, Andrew A., and an infant son not named, who completes the family.

Mr. De Smidt and family have a pleasant home, located on one of the most beautiful building sites to be found anywhere. It is situated on section 11, between the villages of Greenbush and Glenbeulah, and stands in the midst of a beautiful grove of shade and ornamental trees. His farm of two hundred and five acres is under an excellent state of cultivation.

In his early political affiliations, Mr. De Smidt was a Republican, but is now an ardent Prohibitionist. He was reared in accordance with the doctrines of the Dutch Reformed Church, but is now in sympathy with the Free-Will Methodist belief. However, he does not confine his church work or sympathy to any special denomination, but is an active worker in both the Methodist Episcopal and the Baptist Churches. In short, Mr. De Smidt takes an active part in promoting the moral and religious growth of the community in which he lives in any field wherein he may find work to do.


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