Schmitt Family

Family Tree Chart
Unknown Parents in Europe
Anna Schmitt
Stephen Schmitt

The first known members of the family to leave what is now Germany for the United States were Stephen Schmitt and his sister, Anna. Anna came first, in 1853, following her husband, Frank Gross. At some point she sent for her brother Stephen, who arrived in New York from Le Havre, France, on May 19, 1857 aboard the Hemisphere. Curiously, no census form has been found indicating where he was living in 1860, but he can be located in the 1870 census.

We have absolutely no information on the family in Europe that they left in order to come to the United States.

There has long been sense in the family that they came from Bavaria, but this may be based in part on the fact that it was a strong center for Catholic Schmitt's (with the "tt" ending) as opposed to Prussia, a stronger Protestant center (with the "dt" ending for the name). However, it is interesting that there was some family lore that stated that Stephen was leaving to avoid the draft. The Bavarian root didn't make sense for a Prussian draft. However, the records that have been discovered indicate that Stephen (listed as Stephan on the ship) and Anna came from Hessen Darnstadt, a region between Prussia to the North and Bavaria to the South. Light research indicates that this area was conquered by Prussia shortly after he left. If there was some sense that the Prussians were on their way, it's a small leap to matching the lore of the man avoiding the draft with the political situation in Hessen Darnstadt. William described his fathers birthplace to the census taker as Prussia.

Interestingly, there was no modern Germany until after the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, so any number of names could have been used in later census taking.

There was a large German community near the Five Corners area of New York City, so there is a good chance that they were living there. Stephen is living in the Northern reaches of the upper East side when he was naturalized in 1876, at 601 East 13th Street. If the numbering schemes are the same as today, that would put him at the corner of Avenue A. A quick look at Google Hybrid maps shows that to be what looks like a commercial building today. The family found itself in Brooklyn (not a part of New York City until 1900), and later still, in the New York borough of Queens.

There are at least 118 known descendants of Stephen Schmitt and his sister, and at least 38 of them were living as of July 2006. The descendents of Anna are more difficult to identify. The line that we know the most about, from Emelia down through Father Michael do not appear to have any remaining heirs. There are more than likely other descendents of Stephen, as there are several lines of the family for which current information is not available. For example, we have names for many of the Frey family, descended from Stephens daughter Emelia and her husband John Frey, but we have unfortunately lost contact with them. All of the known relations in the Schmitt family come from Stephen. However, there are currently only 8 living male descendants that carry the Schmitt name; William Jude Schmitt, William Francis Schmitt, John Patrick Schmitt, William Joseph Schmitt, Harry Joseph Schmitt, II, Patrick William Schmitt, Daniel John Schmitt, and Peter Georges Schmitt. As the first 3 have raised or are raising their older families already, going forward, there are only 5 males who can carry the name into the future, a remarkably small number for a family that has been in the United States for 150 years.

It is worth noting, many of the woman who married into the family have not had signficant information passed on about their own families. If anyone reading this can add information about those women, it would be sincerely appreciated if they would let us know.

One other point to note. A number of years ago, there was a commemoration done at Governors Island, recognizing the millions of people who passed through there on there way to a new life in America. At that time, many of the speakers at the various ceremonies spoke of how many Americans trace their roots through the facility. As far as we can tell, not a single member of our extended family (the 400+ individuals that I have some information about) came through Governors Island. It seems everyone we know of arrived in America either before Governors Island opened or after it closed.

Related Families Contact: Bill Schmitt