Our Schmidt family originated with Hans Schmidt (1594-1680), a shepherd of the Werra Valley, in a German state called Hessen-Kassel. His early adulthood was shrouded in the terrible Thirty Years War (1618-1648), in which Catholic and Protestant armies swept back and forth across German lands, laying waste to towns and fields several times over.
Hans had a wife and children during these years, but due to the war’s destruction of records, the names of his first wife and children have not yet been definitively identified. Hans’s first wife died, and he married his second wife, Catharina Dietz (1601-1655) in the town of Nentershausen in 1641. Hans and Catharina produced one son, Martin Schmidt (1642-1711), who grew up to be a schoolteacher and whose descendants populated the nearby town of Blankenbach. When Catharina died from a sheepdog bite, Hans remarried one last time. His third wife, Barbara Engeling (1618-1687), whom he married in Nentershausen in 1656, gave Hans one more son: Hans Heinrich Schmidt (1656-1727), who grew up to be a cooper, and whose descendants populated the village of Machtlos.
Our German ancestors were tar haulers, shoemakers, miners, farmers, linen weavers, house painters, cartwrights, day laborers, tailors, soldiers, church elders, church office administrators, mayors, civil servants, and metal smiths.
In the 1800s, some of our Schmidts migrated from Hessen-Kassel to the Ruhr Valley of northwest Germany, seeking work in larger cities like Essen, Bochum, and Dortmund. Many of our Schmidt ancestors immigrated to America, settling everywhere from Iowa, to Kansas, to Pennsylvania, to Texas, to Washington, DC. Today some of the American descendants of Hans Schmidt also have surnames like Anliker, Banwart, Bohn, Eisler, Gernhardt, Guenther, Hagelgans, Jergens, Kertzel/Koertzel, Koenig, Krug, Lindemann, Raub, Schafer, Schwenker, Stutzmann, and Zinnel.
In 2016, the Schmidt branches that settled primarily in northwest Iowa gathered for a reunion of all the living descendants of Hans Schmidt. Reuniting over 1,000 people (over 600 of which were blood descendants), the event broke the record for the largest family reunion ever held in the state of Iowa. Afterward, we founded a family association called the Hans Schmidt Family Association. For more information on our family history, visit HansSchmidt.org.