Father Michael RederAfter I put up the entry about the Gross family, I realized that when I first started this blog, one of the things I was going to do was write something about Father Michael. For a long time, everyone seemed to know he was a relative, but nobody was sure just how that worked out. In fact, it was curiosity about the relationship that got me digging into the family tree a while back (an effort that goes in fits and bursts of energy with long periods of inactivity in between).

Sometime in the 1960’s, Father Michael became a regular visitor at my grandparents house. As we came to learn, he had been cloistered in a monastery since he was 13 years old (since about 1910). The monks had loosened the rules, and he was now allowed to leave to visit relatives. BUT, his family seemed to have disappeared in the 50 years since he was left with them. The only relative of his that the monks could locate was my grandfather, William A. Schmitt. So how was he related anyway?

Of course, by the time we started looking, Father Michael had been dead for a number of years. We did know the names of his brother, sister, and mother, and had his birthdate on a mass card from his funeral. A letter to the Capucian monastery in Yonkers, NY, where he lived at the time we knew him, yielded his fathers name on a copy of his baptismal certificate that the monks kindly sent. A few years ago, I obtained access to the census lists at Ancestry.com and started looking for matches. After a lot of connecting the dots, we found that he and my grandfather were second cousins. The names of the common ancestors are not known, at least not yet, but Father Michael and my grandfather had the same great grandparents. Two members of the Schmitt family arrived in the United States from Hessen Darnstadt (later a part of Germany) in the 1800’s. My great-great grandfather arrived on May 19, 1857, apparently following his sister, Anna, who had arrived about 3 1/2 years earlier, on November 21, 1853. She was married to a man named Frank Gross. Anna and Frank had 6 known children, all born in the United States.

The oldest of Frank and Anna’s children was Emilia. Emilia, in turn, married August Reder, and they had 3 known children, Frank, Anna, and August, Jr. When August Reder, Sr., died (killed by a runaway horse, according to Father Michael), his mother, Emilia, had difficulty caring for the three children. She placed 13 year old August, Jr., into the care of the Capucians. When August, Jr., decided to stay and become a priest, he took the name Michael.

My Dad remembers visiting him as a child, and speaking to him through a confessional type screen, but never knew his other relatives. The latest documents that we have found have Emilia and her daughter Anna living with Frank in Manhattan in 1920. Frank was found later married to a woman named Anna (presumably not his sister) and living in Queens in 1930. I seem to recall having found some potential matches showing Anna and Emilia living together in 1930, but cannot locate them and don’t have anything in my notes, so I can’t be sure. Either way, from that point forward, the trail goes cold.

2 Responses to “Father Michael Reder”

  1. Ed Kolvek says:

    Fr. Michael married my parents over 50 years ago and was a regular visitor to my home when I was a boy. I have information you may like to know about. Please feel free to contact me.

  2. Erin Doyle-Gallerani says:

    I did a search on Google for Fr. Michael Reder and was so very surprised to not only find information on him but his picture also. I would really appreciate corresponding with people who knew him or about him.
    Please feel free to e-mail me @ gallerani@charter.net.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Sincerely,
    Erin Doyle-Gallerani