This press guide is for any journalist, researcher, or blogger who would like information about the Schmidt Family Reunion for a news piece. For more information than what is listed here, or to schedule an interview with one of the event organizers, please contact Josiah Schmidt, either by email or by phone at (937) 825-6049. Reporters and bloggers are also welcome to attend the reunion in person to document the event and obtain quotes/interviews from participants. We encourage all journalists and bloggers to let us know about any stories they produce regarding the reunion, so that we can help promote the stories.
The 2016 Schmidt Family Reunion happened at the Clay County Fairgrounds and Events Center in Spencer, Iowa on the weekend of July 30th and 31st, 2016.
- The 2016 reunion was a project started in 2013 by Emmetsburg resident Josiah Schmidt. Josiah is a professional genealogist and was, at the time, also working as a non-profit development coordinator. Josiah originally hails from the Mallard – West Bend area of Iowa.
- The reunion was organized by the Schmidt Family Reunion Committee (a 501c7 social club non-profit). The committee’s board of directors, at the time, consisted of: Josiah Schmidt of Emmetsburg, Valerie Newhouse of Emmetsburg, Karen Anderson of Graettinger, Denise Lindemann of Oelwein, Deb Schulz of Algona, Rod Schmidt of Longmont (Colorado), and Becky Dykhuis of Sioux Falls (South Dakota).
- The reunion was funded through voluntary contributions by attending family members, sale of Schmidt-family-themed items like t-shirts/mugs/cookbooks/etc., sponsorships by family-owned and/or local businesses, and rental of space to craft/food vendors.
- The reunion gathered together 678 verified cousins, and had a headcount of 1,000+ when guests of the family (such as boyfriends/girlfriends, fiances, foster children, in-laws, and those who did not qualify as direct descendants or spouses) are included in the figure. This reunion officially displaced the 1980 Osterhaus Family Reunion (which had a total headcount of 900) as the largest family reunion in the history of the state of Iowa.
- The current American record for largest family reunion was set by the Lilly family in Flat Top, West Virginia, who reunited 2,585 on August 8th, 2009. The current Guinness World Record for largest family reunion was set by the Porteau-Boileve family in Vendee, Saint-Paul-Mont-Penit, France, who reunited 4,514 cousins on August 19th, 2012. The next Schmidt Family Reunion, to be held on July 25-26, 2026, will attempt to surpass one or both of the aforementioned records.
- Our event reunited the descendants (and their spouses) of Hans Schmidt (1594-1680), who lived as a shepherd around the towns of Nentershausen, Blankenbach, and Machtlos, Germany in the early modern era. Many other unrelated friends were also welcomed into our event and joined in the festivities!
- The progenitors of the American side of this particular Schmidt family immigrated throughout the 1800s, settling mainly in Iowa (most heavily around West Bend, Iowa), although some settled as far apart as Washington state and Washington DC, and many other places in between.
- Attractions at the 2016 reunion included, but were not limited to:
- Authentic German food, drink, and desserts
- Live German music & strolling entertainment
- Displays and presentations teaching about Schmidt family history, German history, and local Iowan history
- German language classes
- Family sports games
- German Bingo
- Carnival games and activities for children
- Sale of our Schmidt Family Cookbook and of “Karl Crosses The Atlantic” (an illustrated children’s book starring one of our immigrant ancestors)
- An ecumenical German-language church service on the afternoon of Sunday July 31st, complete with German hymns sung by a family choir and accompanied by professional pianist/organist Glenn Henriksen