Here Comes the Judge

August 30th was the birthday of a judge.  On this day in 1867, Adolph Gottfried Schmidt was born.  He was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg, Missouri and was probably one of the last baptisms to take place in the 1845 church before the dedication of the new church later in 1867.  Today would have been his 150th birthday.  Adolph was the son of Jacob and Wilhelmina (Schmidt) Schmidt.  Yes, that means Adoph’s parents were two Schmidts, only from different Schmidt clans.  However, he is not John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.  The story of the Schmidt/Schmidt marriage was told in the post, Schmidt nee Schmidt.  Here are photos of these two Schmidts.

Although Adolph was the son of a farmer, that would not become his occupation.  This is not hard to understand.  Adolph was one of eleven children born into this family, only one of which was a girl.  There was no way that there was enough farmland for all of those boys to take over the farm from their father.  Here is the land that Jacob farmed just north of Altenburg.  The E & A Schmidt on this 1915 map stands for his twin sons, Emmanuel and Arthur.

Jacob Schmidt land map 1915

Adolph took on the occupation of a blacksmith.  He had a shop located not far from Trinity Lutheran Church.  You can see his land on this map.

Adolph Schmidt land map 1915


Notice how he had property on both sides of Main Street.  I believe the red arrow would be pointing at his blacksmith shop, while you can see his residence would have been across the road.  Here is a photo of the Schmidt house.

Adolph Gottfried Schmidt home

An advertisement for Adolph’s business describes the services he performed at his shop.

Schmidt Blacksmith AD

We have a few photos taken of Adolph when he was quite young.

On September 3, 1893, Adolph married Maria Brandes of Uniontown.  They were married at Grace Lutheran Church.  Although Maria gave birth to three children, for all practical purposes, they had just one because two of them died at a very early age.  The only child who lived was a daughter named Hedwig.  She was the firstborn with her birthday occurring in 1894.  Hattie, as she was called, would later marry Rudolph Meyr.  That couple’s son was Vernon Meyr, who became a very renowned student of Perry County history and was greatly responsible for funding our museum building.

Adolph was elected as a judge and served Perry County in this capacity from 1915-1919 during the time when America was fighting in World War I.  Our museum has a series of letters which were written by Rudi Estel to Adolph during the time when he was running for this office.  I guess you could say that Rudi was a sort of campaign organizer for Adolph.  I wrote a post about these letters back in April that was titled, Perry County Politics.  He won the election and for a short time he and his family lived in Perryville.  After his term was up, he returned to Perry County, but he did not return to his blacksmith business.  The 1920 census says he had no occupation, and the 1930 census says he was a notary public.

We have this old photo which pictures the Adolph Schmidt blacksmith shop.   I will not attempt to identify the people standing in front because this photo has caused quite a debate concerning who they are and why they were there.

Schade blacksmith shop Also Adolph Schmidt shop

Another photo of this building was taken many years later.  It shows that several changes were made to the building.

Adolph Schmidt's blacksmith shop

If you look closely at this photo, you will see evidence that new wood had been placed on the side of the building, and not all of it had aged yet.  I have been told that three of the four walls had their boards replaced at one time in the past.  Also, a sign with a reproduction of the old Schmidt ad was placed on the side of the building.

Recently, with this building getting dangerously close to falling over, a new owner made the decision to take it down.  However, he also invested in putting up a building in its place which looks like the old one.  After watching this building go up, I can tell you that this new building is very sturdily built, using techniques that are historic in nature.  The roof on the new building is the same as before.  Here is a series of photographs showing the beginning to end progress in first taking down the old building and putting up the new one.  You can click on the thumbnails to enlarge them.

A photo taken later in his life shows Adolph, Maria, and their grandson, Vernon Meyr.

Adolph Maria & Vernon

Even at his advanced age, Adolph remained active.  Here we see him handling a buck saw at his home.

Fiehler judge Schmidt buck saw

Maria died in 1951; Adolph died in 1953.

In closing, I will share one more photo showing Adolph Schmidt participating in the groundbreaking for a new bank building in Altenburg.

bank ground breaking 8 men M

Adolph was on the governing board of the bank for many years, and in this photo we see him handling the shovel.  I think it shows the level of respect this community had for this man.

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