Notes on William Schmidt
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Notes on William Schmidt

Along the Iowa-Minnesota border in the 1890s

William Schmidt, Man on Top.

           William Andreas Schmidt was born in Clinton county, Iowa, on July 8, 1861. He married Dora Voss in 1884, probably in Crawford county, Iowa. They lived first near Maurice in Sioux county, Iowa, and later near Lake Park, in Dickinson county, Iowa, and a few miles north near Sioux Valley in Jackson county, Minnesota.
          William and Dora were the parents of six children who survived to adulthood; one son and five daughters. The children were: Emil J., b. Dec. 26, 1884; Emma, b. Mar, 1887; Minnie b. Feb, 1889; Ella M., b. May, 1891; Lillian, b. July 4, 1893; and Hilda, b. July, 1897. William was a farmer, though probably not a very successful farmer.
           He was a well-liked and sociable man, a natural musician who taught his children to play. A lover of good times and unlucky in his agricultural pursuits, he was probably moody at times, but he was loved by his family and was never mean in his actions. In late April, 1900, while living near Sioux Valley, Minn., William suffered a mental breakdown of a manic-depressive nature. He was hospitalized at St. Peter, Minn., and later, at Hastings, Minn., where he died Sept. 20, 1934. Had William lived today he would have probably been treated successfully and returned to his family. His hopeless condition in a turn-of-the-century Minnesota mental hospital must have left him in a permanent condition of melancholia.
          His granddaughter, Alvera Schmidt Beyers of Pipestone, MN, remembered her grandmother, Dora, would come to visit her husband William in the hospital. Alvera's father, Emil, would drive her. Emil was William and Dora's only son. Alvera remembered, (or remembered being told by her father), her grandmother would shake her head and say, "I don't see why I can't take care of him myself. I could take better care of him at home." But she didn't...why not? Maybe it was just the medical and social attitudes of the time; maybe William's depression was too serious; in any event, he lived the last thirty-four years of his life in Minnesota state hospitals at St. Peter and Hastings. He was buried at Hayes township cemetery next to his father, Johann Schmidt and his grandfather, Andreas Lenz.
From the Manning Monitor, September 1934.

Last Rites Held For W. A. Schmidt
          William Andreas Schmidt was born at Wheatland, Iowa, on July 8th, in the year 1861. He was the son of John and Anna Schmidt. With his parents he came to West Side, Iowa in 1876. In 1883 he was married to Miss Dora Voss who is left to mourn his passing. There were six children born to the marriage whose names are as follows:
          Emil of Holland, Minn.; Emma (Mrs. Louis Dengler) deceased; Minnie (Mrs. Wm. Babelis) of Cheyenne, Wyo.; Ella (Mrs. Chas. Reinke) of Rapid City, S.D.; Lillian (Mrs. William Jacobsen) of Clutier, Iowa; Hilda (Mrs. Charles Schaul) deceased.
          Besides the above children there are also the following brothers and sisters bereaved:
          Charles of Manning, Ia.; Louis (deceased); John of Sioux City, Iowa; Frank of Washington; Mrs. Matilda Arp of Sioux City, Iowa; Mrs. Minnie Behrens of Wood Lake, Minn.; Mrs. Al Fiala of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
          There are also left 21 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
          Mr. Schmidt was one of the early settlers in Manning, and while in this town he was engaged in the occupation of plasterer and mason. In 1883 he moved from here to Northern Iowa and from there he went to Minnesota where he died.
          For 34 years he had been ill and during this time he had received hospital care. It was his wish that when he died he should be buried in the family burial lot in Hayes Township, and his wishes were carried out. He was baptized in the Lutheran Faith. On the 20th day of September he passed to the homeland at the ripe age of 73 years, 2 months and 12 days.
          May his soul rest in peace.
From the Jackson Republic, Jackson, Minnesota, May 4, 1900.

Reason Had Flown
          Wm. Schmidt, of Sioux Valley, was brought to town Saturday and lodged in the village jail while waiting examination as to his sanity. Here his shouts and ravings attracted the attention of all in that part of the town. He was examined on Monday by Judge Sandou and Dr. Portmann and Maitland, and committed to the St. Peter asylum, where Sheriff Dunn took him Tuesday. He was suffering from acute mania and was violent most of the time. He is a middle-aged man and moved up from Iowa with his wife and six children something over a year ago.

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