New Wife, No Job, Go West

A pattern we have seen before is repeated again today.  It goes something like this.  A member of a large family cannot find either land, employment, or both in East Perry County, so a decision is made to leave.  The direction to move is most often to the west where land is cheap and available, and cities and their businesses are growing.  In other words, the population here had exploded to the point that this area could not support this large population when the children entered the labor market.  Something had to give, and it often meant young people would migrate elsewhere.

The story begins with the birth of Hugo Schmidt on September 8, 1897.  He was the firstborn son of Joseph and Mathilde (Richter) Schmidt of Altenburg.  To place this Schmidt family, it may be helpful to state that Joseph was Adolph “Judge” Schmidt’s brother, which means he was yet another son of the Schmidt/Schmidt marriage that has been mentioned on this blog several times.  Here are Hugo’s Schmidt grandparents, Jacob and Wilhelmina.

I find it also fascinating that Judge Schmidt was baptized on September 8th, exactly thirty years before his nephew Hugo was born, and Judge Schmidt had a daughter named Elda Lydia who died on the exact same day as Hugo’s birthday shortly after her first birthday.  So this means that Hugo’s cousin died on the same day that he was born.  Not long after Hugo’s birth, his family became some of the first members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wittenberg in 1903.

When Hugo was 21 years old, he filled out a World War I draft registration form.

Hugo Schmidt – WWI draft registration

On that form, he describes himself as a farm laborer, and he is working for his father.  Not long after that, he must have gotten a job at the swing factory in Wittenberg.  The 1920 census shows Hugo with that job and living as a boarder in the Birner Hotel in Wittenberg.

Hugo Schmidt 1920 census Wittenberg MO
1920 census – Wittenberg, MO

That census is recorded as being taken on June 6, 1920.  Just three months later, on September 26, 1920, Hugo married Hulda Eggers at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  Hulda was the daughter of Herman and Ida (Wachter) Eggers.  Here is the marriage record we find in their church books.

Schmidt Eggers marriage record Wittenberg
Schmidt/Eggers marriage record – St. Paul’s, Wittenberg

There were only two marriages at that congregation in 1920.  According to my reckoning, since the new church building was dedicated in November of that year, Hugo and Hulda were the last couple to be married at old white, wood-framed building that was used as both a church and a school in downtown Wittenberg.  The second marriage record, the Jungclaus/Oehlert couple, must have been the first wedding to take place in the new brick church building located just north of town.

When Hugo worked at the swing factory, it was already known as the Perfection Furniture Manufacturing Company.  The story of this business was told in the post, Frogtown Furniture.  That factory would go out of business in the mid-twenties.  Hugo may have seen the handwriting on the wall, because it appears that not long after his wedding, he and Hulda must have moved to Oregon.  We see them in this 1930 census from Corvallis, Oregon.

Hugo Schmidt 1930 census Corvallis OR
1930 census – Corvallis, OR

By 1930, they already had three children, all of which are recorded as being born in Oregon.  The oldest was already eight years old, meaning that already in 1922, the Schmidt family had moved west.  We also see Hugo listed as being a bus driver for an auto transit business.  I really do not know what that means.

At some time in the early 1930’s, Hugo and Hulda brought their family back to Perry County for a visit.  This family photo was taken during that visit here.  It must have been taken before March of 1932, because that is when Joseph died.

Joseph & Sarah Schmidt family
Joseph Schmidt family

Joseph and his second wife, Sarah (Darnstaedt), are standing in the back on the left.  Hugo’s brother, Ottomar, is next in line, followed by Hugo and Hulda.  Then there are two more girls on the right.  The children of Hugo and Hulda, Mildred, Clarence, and Gladys, are likely to be seated in the front row.

I would love to see the license plate on the car in the background.  I would like to know if it had Oregon plates.  I think the most likely way that Hugo brought his family back to Missouri was by driving them here.  If so, it must have taken several days to get here.

The 1940 census shows Hugo working as a sales clerk and delivery man for a grocery store in Corvallis.  Mildred, their oldest, is listed as a stenographer for the county clerk.

Hugo Schmidt 1940 census Corvallis OR
1940 census – Corvallis, OR

The Schmidts managed to find a Lutheran church in Corvallis.  We find them buried in the Zion Lutheran Cemetery there, so it can be assumed that they were members.  That congregation began in 1905.

Hugo died in 1957 at about the age of 60.  Hulda did not die until she was 97 years old in 1998.  Here are their gravestones in the Zion Cemetery.

Before I quit today, I want to point out a fact about our research library.  East Perry County had four different Schmidt clans who came here on the original boats in the immigration.  Lots of Schmidts have spent at least part of their lives in these here parts.  However, this is what we see in the portion of our research library where we store family history binders.

Family history binders Schmidt

The only Schmidt binder we have is from my family, Georg Joachim Schmidt, and that one is not one of our best (I know, because I made it).  My point is this:  With all the Schmidts that have lived in Perry County, we really ought to have more information on those Schmidt families.  If you know where we could find some more research that has been done on some Schmidts, we would love to have copies here in our library.  It would have been very useful today to have a binder with some information on Hugo Schmidt and his family.

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