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
Copyright 1997 - 2009 by Debie Blindauer