Archive for the Schmitt Category

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?

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The Gross family connected to the Schmitt family back in the mid 1800’s. My great-great grandfather’s sister, whose name was Anna (though one census form inexplicably calls her Eliza — possibly from a middle name), married a man named Frank Gross, probably before they arrived in the United States in 1853 from Hessen Darnstadt in what was later to become Germany. My great-great grandfather, Stephen, also lists Hessen Darnstadt as his birthplace on several documents.

Rootsweb has a mailing list for the Gross family, which I joined some time ago to see if anything came through on the name. Most of the family seems (unscientific observation) to have headed for the south. Last week, a woman named Althena Butterfield issued an invitation on that list to join a new website covering the Gross family and other relations. I traded a few messages with her and joined the site. Maybe we’ll get lucky?